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Love in the Time of Caller ID

average rating is 2 out of 5


Joe Beck


Posted on:

Jul 15, 2024

Film Reviews
Love in the Time of Caller ID
Directed by:
Neil Sandhoefner
Written by:
Neil Sandhoefner
Luke Engel, Peter Engel, Amber Rinehart

It’s always difficult for children when their parents split apart, or, for whatever reason, are no longer together. One of the hardest stages of that process is when their parents, or parent, somewhat inevitably moves on to a new partner, taking up much of their time and attention, whilst also causing a child’s emotional state to go into turmoil. ‘Love in the Time of Caller ID’, attempts to depict that effect which such circumstances has on children, though lacks the specificity and nuance to truly grapple with the subject matter at hand in any real depth.


If nothing else, the creativity of ‘Love in the Time of Caller ID’ must surely be praised. It has its own distinctive style, with characters that, until its final few moments, speak only through speak bubbles, as each frame is a different drawing. It is a unique way to present a story and to try and broach such a subject, and such a fresh approach to storytelling should be praised. At no point does this artistic style feel as though it detracts from the film, and at no point is sound, or even any conventional form of animation missed. It is a wonderful expression of craftsmanship.


It’s title obviously stems from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s seminal novel ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’, though where the novel is romantic, Neil Sandhoefner’s short film focuses on the parental love two brothers have for their mother, and vice versa, and how that is impacted by the changes of her new relationship. She’s bought an answering machine for them so that they won’t miss calls, and the film, plot wise at least, centres around the answer they’ve left on there, and their desire for their mother to call and hear it as she has gone to spend the night with her new partner, Chuck, and his family.


The fundamental issue is that there is a paradox at the heart of ‘Love in the Time of Caller ID’, that can only be explained in a way that takes away from everything the film is trying to say. It is illogical that the mother would leave her two kids alone unsupervised if they are still young enough to get excited by answering machines and caller id’s, yet it is also illogical that they are older than that and cannot accept that their mother has gone away for a night. The two things don’t make sense together, and so the film’s believability starts to fall apart and it all begins to feel rather whimsical and out of touch with reality.


There is the framing device of a science fiction classic that the two brothers are watching on tv, yet that fails to bring real nuance to the film, instead only convoluting the narrative. Its attempts to depict the emotional turmoil and understanding of parental love comes across as poorly thought out and lacking any firm idea of what parental love truly means.


Therefore, whilst the creativity of ‘Love in the Time of Caller ID’ is admirable, it lacks any real depth and beyond its technical aspects is a largely frustrating film.

About the Film Critic
Joe Beck
Joe Beck
Short Film
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