The cozy early winter vibe of New York City wraps around you like a cashmere scarf in director-writer-star Stephen Keep Mills’ love letter to love, Love is Not Love. Frank (Mills) follows a couple of Irish construction workers discussing and debating women’s wiles in the old Tristan and Isolde tale. But, as he walks through the vibrant, chilly city, he also hears various conversations that revolve around relationships. Intercut with his walk are scenes from a Commedia dell’Arte street performance that seems to echo his internal struggle over sexual passion versus stability and companionship. An established urbanite, no longer youthful, Frank has a problem on his hands regarding women. He has two of them, in fact. One is a younger escort named Emilia (Alejandra Gollas), who calls herself Reyna. The other is his wife of many years, Paula (Louise Martin).
“…Frank has a problem on his hands regarding women. He has two of them…”
Much of what we see can be interpreted as Frank’s inner dialogue as he struggles with the horns of this dilemma. He wants a life with both women, each speaking to the part of him that the other doesn’t fulfill. Despite being a paid courtesan, Emilia seems to be falling for Frank, or maybe he’s fantasizing that she is. During his scheduled time with Reyna, he plays with her little dog as she pours him champagne and lights candles. When Frank leaves her place, he has seen only what she wants him to see and only what he wishes to. This may all be fantasy because, while Frank is handsome for his age, he is in his 70s, and it seems, to be generous, unlikely that Emila would fall in love with him. She could be performing her art with a high degree of skill and passion for the role.
At home, Paula keeps him grounded. She is boisterous, full of humor, and has the wisdom of experience both in life and from her years with him. He tries on these two lives, not understanding that his fulfillment comes from having both women in his life. He doesn’t seem disposed to a “thruple” style polyamory, so Frank is stuck with a choice that’s no choice at all. Either direction will destroy his happiness.
"…life is not designed for us to be [entirely satisfied]."