Premiering on Document, the short film explores the tragic pursuit of meaning in a media-saturated landscape

A modern approach to cinéma vérité gives way to uncanny and surreal lyricism in Love In LA, a bleary, impressionistic anti-fairy tale that finds solace in its depiction of loneliness and narcissism.

Amid the smog, on the scintillating streets of Los Angeles, an unnamed, solitary character wanders aimlessly through an uncaring Hollywood. Recorded on a Sony Handycam through the lens of a sightseer, the scenes that unfold speak to the tragic pursuit of meaning in a media-saturated landscape, where happiness is packaged for consumption and idols are immortalized on sidewalks and in window displays.

Hard and abrupt cuts dislocate the audience from the touristic perspective, thrusting the viewer into a liminal, private space: a barren motel room captured in cinematic high definition. Here, the film’s protagonist desperately attempts to reflect intimately on her true inner state. Without words, the undefinable, unlocatable feeling of intense loneliness lingers and hovers on the edge of her glassy and vacant gaze.

The anti-oratorical quality of the film is propped up by its musical accompaniment: Claude Debussy’s “L’après-midi d’un faune.” Lilting flutes sound as the woman walks aimlessly, clutching a rose close to her chest, hiding behind the dark frames of her sunglasses. She stares out, looking into the lives of others, but doesn’t let anyone look in. It begs the question: Is the rose a flower, or is it the one absent from all bouquets?

Marcela Jacobina is the woman holding the rose and the one responsible for this vague, yet strikingly poignant performance piece. Without a script, Jacobina and cinematographer Matthew Chuang conjure a two minute hymn that floats somewhere between memory and fantasy, dream and reality, disenchantment and dissociation.

Love In LA is circular. There is no beginning, middle, or end. The anonymous girl has not changed when the film concludes. She has been revealed.

Marcela Jacobina is a Brazilian writer, director, and actress. Love In LA is premiering on Document. Her next short film, NOBODY, is set to be released in 2023.