Love Means ....
Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O'Neal - Chances Are) a Harvard Law student and music student Jennifer Cavelleri (Ali MacGraw - Survive the Savage Sea) have an undeniable chemistry which is impossible to ignore despite coming from different sides of the track. When they decide to marry, Oliver's wealthy and disapproving father threatens to disown him but it makes no difference as Oliver and Jennifer are truly in love. Whilst forced to fend for themselves Oliver and Jennifer's love grows ever stronger even when she tries to reconcile her husband and his father. But true love is never easy as Oliver and Jennifer sadly find out.
Released back in 1970 "Love Story" with its tale of romance, a famous quote and equally memorable theme song has won the hearts of many. In fact some would say that the story written by Erich Segal and directed by Arthur Hiller is one of the greatest romantic movies ever made. Sadly I disagree, as whilst it may have been special when released back in 1970, for me "Love Story" is entertaining but average, a movie which I would say appeals more to a certain generation who grew up with it.
Right from the outset director Arthur Hiller's styling feels strange almost raw and a little jerky as it builds upon the relationship between Oliver and Jennifer. The trouble is that this storyline is for me unoriginal with Oliver and Jennifer coming from different classes which brings plenty of issues for them as they marry and have to fend for themselves. And to be honest this part of "Love Story" disappoints because it lacks originality and Hiller's styling makes it feel rough. Maybe in 1970 the storyline was original and redefined how people thought about love but watching it now it almost feels plain.
And to make matters worse or at least for me is the dialogue in "Love Story" which is frequently over flowery that it doesn't feel natural. Jennifer often speaks like she's been reading too many sonnets and is too pragmatic about everything and Oliver, a sports jock is little different. It just doesn't sound natural. Plus of course there is that famous "Love means never having to say you're sorry" which even now some 40 years later is still often used and I am not going to apologise for what I say because whilst the sentiment maybe nice it is as cheesy as hell.
But here in an almost perverse way is what makes "Love Story" not bad and more that just some complete sappy romance. It starts with a narration from Oliver which goes "what can you say about a 25 year old girl who died.... that she was beautiful and brilliant, that she loved Mozart, Bach .... the Beatles and me". It signals that something not right has happened and after setting up the romance between Oliver and Jennifer you wait for that moment to come. That I am sure is not the intention of the movie, it's a movie which tries to redefine love, but for those who find the redefining of love quit boring it gives it another level of interest. And as such throws up some false set ups when you think something bad maybe about to happen before it finally does in what is a surprisingly tender way.
Plus of course having given us one of the most over used quotes in cinema's history it also gave us the "Love Story theme" by Francis Lai. Now whilst that singular piece has become as often used as the quote it has to be said it is a lovely piano piece, in fact beautiful and it's no surprise that Francis Lai won an Oscar for Best Music, Original Score for "Love Story".
Despite my indifference to the actual story and dialogue the performances from Ryan O'Neal and Ali MacGraw are surprisingly entertaining. Ryan O'Neal manages to combine hunky jock with rebellious rich kid without becoming too cliche and Ali MacGraw manages to stray from being cliche as the girl from a more humble world. And whilst the airy fairy dialogue that they try to make good ends up grating they are believable as two young people completely in love, which grows nicely in line with their relationship. By the end of the movie you do believe that this young couple are so in love that they don't need anything else to feel happiness.
What this all boils down to is that for me I don't really see what is so special about "Love Story", but then it's one of what I call generational movies which I am sure speaks volumes to those who were young adults back at the start of the 70s when redefining love worked. What "Love Story" is is well acted and adequately entertaining even if the dialogue and that now famous quote end up grating more than anything.