★★★ Directed by: Ranga Bandaranayake Documentary Film Review by: Owen Herman
Life Without Love – Love Without Life is a documentary that looks at suicide in Sri Lanka, a country which has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. The topic of suicide is often looked at in documentary form, but director Ranga Bandaranayake focuses on the often-overlooked tragedy of suicide squads used in war.
Bandaranayake explores this topic in a deep and interesting way. He takes first hand accounts and compares them to research from academics to show that the suicide epidemic is down to more than just individual feelings and is part of the social, economic, and political situation in Sri Lanka. There is a lot to learn here, the film delves into the recent history of Sri Lanka and looks at both sides of those affected by suicide attacks. The film does a great job of allowing you to understand why people actually chose to commit these almost unbelievable acts.
The film also mixes its standard documentary style with thoughtful narration set to images of Sri Lanka, some shocking and some beautiful. This narration is heavy on metaphors and it ultimately takes away from the overall experience. These metaphors and sayings are simply not as powerful as the actual facts that the film reveals, meaning that during these moments the overall driving message is somewhat lost.
There is also an unfortunate issue with the translation of the subtitles. There are several grammatical errors and a few times sentences just didn’t make sense. This really took away from some of the important points the interviewees were making, as sometimes it was hard to grasp what they were trying to say.
Suicide is such an important topic and it is one that, when explored with intelligence and compassion, can make for important and educational documentaries. Life Without Love – Love Without Life does handle it with intelligence and compassion, but its overall message is marred by some poor filmmaking. Overall its subject shines through, making it a documentary worth watching for those who wish to find out more about such a tragic trend.