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Review: “Suitcase of Love and Shame”

Had a chance to catch a sold out screening of “Suitcase of Love and Shame” at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art Saturday night, and having replayed in my head various moments from the film, I was compelled to share the experience with others…

Reconstructing a secret 1960’s love affair from 60 hours of audio reels discovered in a suitcase purchased on eBay, the film, directed by Jane Gillooly with cinematography by friend and colleague Beth Cloutier, is an experimental narrative and historical documentary. The recordings consist of audio letters, TV shows, music, and what one would consider the 1960’s version of sex tapes. The Midwestern couple known as Tom and Jeannie, who are kept anonymous and faceless, are heard talking, drinking, laughing, crying, making plans to meet, making love, and what is probably the most comedic moment of the film, describing in explicit detail how Tom made a Valentine’s Day gift of himself for Jeannie to “use” when they’re not together. The portrayal is candid, uncensored, and a revealing look at a time that mirrors our current obsession with technology to capture, document, and share our personal moments.

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His

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Hers

The film offers the viewer a lush collection of visuals and imagery you connect to the audio through free association, recreating the mood and sensations of the lovers’ adulterous relationship. From two distinctly lit 1960’s era reel-to-reel recorders, to two swirling glasses encircled by a palette of intimate bokeh, the lovers are personified through a collage of abstract imagery that evokes their tender, erotic, and pathetic moments. While different in style, the film is reminiscent of a Wong Kar Wai sensorial experience, both in its restrained direction and rich cinematography. It’s a beautifully shot film, and while it’s abstract and experimental in nature, it remains accessible to the average viewer.

Read more about it in the Boston Globe article, and keep an eye on the film’s web site and Facebook page for any future screenings. Catch it when it comes your way!

Suitcase of reels purchase don eBay for $100.

Suitcase of recordings purchased on eBay for $100.

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Suitcase of Love and Shame poster

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