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A little cheese and a little whine

Film Log: Love Bite

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There’s something of a tradition of British comedies which take a slightly surreal conceit and flesh it out with well-drawn and slightly quirky characters and a bit of observational humour. Love Bite fits well into this mould: while it does have plenty of werewolf action, it’s basically a story about a teenage boy learning to navigate the world of sex and relationships.

My own experience of this time of life was fairly atypical and is now merely a distant memory, and as a result I probably didn’t appreciate some of the finer points of the writing. This didn’t spoil my enjoyment, though: all the characters are very likeable and the cast very watchable. Timothy Spall as the eccentric and slightly incompetent werewolf hunter is a joy but doesn’t outshine his fellow players.

That same tradition – in contrast to US products like American Pie – is grounded in a less optimistic (or perhaps more realistic) view of life and favours cynicism over sentimentality, and Love Bite uses its werewolf theme to give us a slightly dark ending rather than the happily-ever-after we might expect from the premise. Similarly, while this film tries to explore the dilemmas we face as sexuality becomes part of our lives, it doesn’t moralise – it’s just an enjoyable yarn about some people you might quite like to hang out with for a while. It strikes a good balance between the different things it’s trying to accomplish, and this is perhaps its weakness: the need to give the characters room to breath means the horror never gets very dark while the need to sustain the who-is-the-werewolf plot line means the comedy never gets to take centre stage.

One of the dangers of the sexual ingénue theme is the temptation to put the lead in contrived and embarrassing situations which leave the audience cringing. Love Bite does a splendid job of avoiding this, and taken in combination with everything else the result is a consistently enjoyable couple of hours.

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My Bookshelf

The Golden Bough
The Value of Nothing
The Fire
A Wolf at the Table
Devil Bones

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