Julia’s review published on Letterboxd:
Excuse me Mr. Haver, I didn’t ask to be brought to tears in a Taco Bell drive thru today.
For real though, this is one of the most honest, beautiful, and personal films I’ve ever seen. It’s a true testament to how good art is not restricted to high budget projects or to a specific formula. The line between fiction and reality is so thin, and the film is so heartbreaking and intimate in its portrait of grief, loneliness, and the “human condition”. This is truth in filmmaking, personal pain and catharsis.
Despite its low budget, Pretend You Love Me is gripping, and there are some legitimately awe-inspiring shots and impressive sequences. Even after the film switches itself up halfway through, there’s a certain beauty in the more simplified, backseat style that takes over. The dialogue is naturalistic and awkward, but never unbearably so, and it’s always believable.
This film honestly felt sort of therapeutic, made me feel like I’m not truly alone, just human. After finishing it, I felt a combination of intense catharsis and inspiration. See, I wasn’t aware until today that Joel Haver had made feature length films, and being a fan of his shorter works I was excited to see what he’d done. This is really something special.
(And it’s available for free!! On YouTube.com!! So go watch it!)