Streaming Releases: Six LA Love Stories (Reviewed)

Love is many things. It's beautiful. It's hard. And often times, it's not fun at all. Michael Dunaway has finally released the 2016 drama/comedy that takes a frontline look at how and where love might takes us. The film stars Stephen Tobolowsky, Alicia Witt, Peter Bogdanovich, Matthew Lillard, Carrie Preston, Beth Grant, and more in a project that's not quite as great as its wonderful cast. 

During a single day, six stories of six different couples in six areas of LA all take place as relationships thrive, fall apart, and take different paths. 

This hour and fifteen minute anthology of adult companionship vignettes is touted as a Love Actually meets Magnolia. While it's not nearly as creative or powerful as either of those previous films, it's definitely a wonderful portrait of how love can exist on different planes for differing personalities. Using a style that feels like a stage play more than a film, Six LA Love Stories has something for everyone. Commenting on the blossoming of love, dating in Los Angeles, passionate same sex relationships on the skids, and the end stages of long term couplings. 

Cut with a comedic edge that attempts to play to the diverse and cultured personalities of Los Angeles, the film succeeds in most areas yet has a few minor stumbling blocks that hold it back from hitting high critical marks. Although it features a stellar lineup of actors and some name stars that have done far bigger and better things, the acting is stilted which doesn't help audiences connect with the characters. Freshmen full length drama director Michael Dunaway deserves credit for attempting to move away from documentaries, but his first narrative film feels short sighted as the dialogue seems forced and amateurish at times. That's not to steal away from some of the realistic discussions between characters. But more should have been done to create a better dynamic between characters, the intertwining of specific stories, and the connectivity between scenes. 

Using an amateurish audio mix with poor sound editing and a soundtrack that doesn't strike a chord with the film itself, viewers will constantly be reminded that this is a first effort. Again, Dunaway has something here, yet the film needed a stronger edit that should have made the main players seem more endearing to the people watching his work. If they had taken the time to use more emotive music that flowed better in each specific scene, I think he might have had a real winner here. But overall, something is missing. A key component doesn't work. There's a couple puzzle pieces that don't quite fit. I truthfully think it's the music.