Today, it was a toss-up between Ten Tiny Love Stories and Starter for 10. I’d read the book of the latter – it was readable but the main character was supremely irritating, so I didn’t think I could face an hour and a half of his simpering, student-y angst. Mind you, if it was a choice between that and One Day, I’d plump for McAvoy every time.
But I thought I’d take a punt on Ten Tiny Love Stories, a film I’d never heard of, but which looked intriguing. Having now watched it, I can see why it’s not more widely known. It’s more theatrical in construct than cinematic: a collection of ten thematically-related monologues spoken directly to camera. Ten unrelated women talk about their relationships, sexual encounters, one- night stands, holiday romances and heartbreaks, in the form of an intimate, matter-of-fact confessional.
There’s nothing much more to it that that, really; the individual stories are not hugely compelling and there were only one or two moments of real poignancy. The characters are not interchangeable exactly – there are enough differences in experiences and mannerisms to make them unique – but the similarity of their backgrounds and socio-economic positions negates any attempts the writer-director has of creating an accurate and wide-ranging snapshot of contemporary romantic experience.
This wouldn’t necessarily matter if the writing was stronger and the individual stories were saying something new. As it stands, however, it lacks insight, breaking down to a collection of ten, fairly uninteresting tales from ten unexceptional women. I suppose their ordinariness is part of the point, but there has to be more of a hook to engage the audience, aside from a group of decent actors showcasing the characters’ general likeability.
For my part, I started looking behind them to admire their pristine kitchens, or wondering how on earth they managed to get their arms so toned. Great advert for the kitchen designers and personal trainers, but less so for the quality of the story.
Overall, I wasn’t sure what the purpose of the film was (and I say that as someone who enjoys this kind of montage structure). The individual monologues were poorly structured and too reliant on the skill of the actors to carry it through. Much better to watch something like Coffee and Cigarettes instead – a collage of encounters that offers a diverse (and, most importantly – entertaining) interpretation of themed material.
What I would have seen (if Netflix had the range): 10 Rillington Place