2017 Dances With Films Festival
On Saturday evening, D-Love (2016) had its auspicious West Coast début at Hollywood’s 2017 Dances With Films Festival. Created by the husband and wife team of writer Dave Rogers and director Elena Beuca, it’s about hitting rock bottom and what to do about it.
The couple stars as Dan and Stefania Michaels, fictionalized versions of themselves in a story based on real events. After an overseas trip, Dan and Stefania arrive at LAX jet lagged and stressed after losing their luggage. A tall young man with a Hare Krishna haircut approaches Stefania asking for a “ride east.” The young man is Ditlev Darmakaya, a well spoken Danish traveler. He’s a yoga practitioner with a philosophical approach to life. Stefania is skeptical while Dan takes to him, shortening his hard to pronounce name to the handle D-Love, inviting him home.
Dan and Stefania are at a crossroads. Their attempt to have children hasn’t worked. Stefania has a bad boss at a high pressure job while master chef Dan hasn’t worked full-time in years, still traumatized over the death of his parents. It’s all coming to a head and will the other worldly house guest hurt or help? He speaks cryptically and seems as alien as Jeff Bridges in Starman (1984) or David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976).
Part of the fun is trying to guess if Burning Man bound D-Love is who he says he is. Dan’s best friend Shawn (Billy Howerdel) is another skeptic. We’ve all heard of nice, middle class couples taken in by con men or con women. The Will Smith character posing as the son of Sidney Poitier in Six Degrees of Separation (1993) is a prime example. If Jesus or Buddha showed up without proper identification, would we let him into our home?
Stefania also has a deep wound. She wants to believe D-Love, but he reminds her of someone in her past who had the same dreams. Dan is opening up and starting to change for the better influenced by his new friend. Because of her defensiveness, can Stefania?
D-Love is Beuca’s first feature, a remarkably self-assured adaptation of Rogers’ screenplay which ranges from absurd comic moments to heartbreaking tragedy.
Editing is by David Hefner. The naturalistic cinematography is by Pierluigi Malavasi with added vintage looking sequences shot by the director in her native Transylvania, Romania.
Elena Beuca appears with the film at the Vero Beach Wine and Film Festival on Friday June 9 at 12 pm.