Review by Sean Boelman
The hangout movie is a subgenre of comedy that is especially hit-or-miss, but the few which are able to effectively capture the intended feeling can be enjoyable beyond belief. Jamie Adams’s Love Spreads is an absolute surprise thanks to a sharp script and a cast that is strong all around.
The film follows a band who, following a successful debut, are in disarray when they try to make their second album. There have been plenty of movies that have shown the creative forces in a band at war with each other, but Adams’s script is refreshingly light on melodrama, taking a much more low-key approach than is typical for films like this.
Like much of the genre, the pacing of the movie is very laid back, but that isn’t a bad thing. For the ninety-three-minute runtime, audiences won’t feel as if they’re watching a movie, but rather a series of sessions by this fictional band. And for those who are into the music scene, the film will prove particularly entertaining.
The thing that Adams’s script largely lacks is something to say. There are some moments which show the promise of this being a commentary on the music industry, this isn’t really the movie’s focus. It’s much more observational than it is insightful, refraining from taking much of a stance on the issues that it could have explored.
That said, as an ode to creativity in the music-making process, it works exceptionally well. The dynamic between the members of the band feels extremely lived-in and authentic. This believability is what makes the film tick, as our investment in their creative process is fundamentally tied to how much we buy into their relationship.
The acting in the movie is also very strong. Alia Shawkat does a great job. Recent years have seen her evolve from being goofy to more straight-faced, even when she’s in a comedic-leaning project like this, and it suits her well. Eiza González, Chanel Cresswell, and Tara Lee are all good in their roles as well.
As expected, the film is very low-key, but it does a great job of capturing the intimacy of the setting. The recording studio Rockfield is fabled, and the movie does a great job of bringing to life what one would imagine the place to be like. The soundtrack is strong as well, with some catchy tunes, but one will be left wishing the filmmakers had done more with it.
Love Spreads is a charmingly quaint film, and while it certainly could have done more with its premise, part of the appeal is how simple it is. It’s a great hangout movie set in the music world, and that’s a niche that is fun to watch.
Love Spreads hits VOD on June 18.