With Love and a Major Organ (2023) [Fantasia Film Festival 2023] 

In a world similar to ours, but even more detached from emotions, a young woman has a change of heart and decides to try to fit in with the more coldhearted people in the population. Her mother passes and things start devolving for her.  

Written by Julia Lederer and directed by Kim Albright, With Love and a Major Organ has some great ideas and a strong commentary on society and the dependence on apps for some folks to live, love, and make decisions. The idea of hearts being made of other materials and that those materials can dictate one’s life path is also really interesting. However, the film feels overly long at a 80-something minutes run time, so somewhere between the ideas and the script and film, something feels like it got lost, or perhaps something was just missing. The film as a whole is not bad, it’s just not up to its full potential story wise. There was so much to be done with these ideas and it feels as if opportunities were missed throughout the film. There are also interesting characters, but their developments are fairly bland. The direction feels like it’s just there, following the script perhaps, but not offering much in terms of excitement either. All this to say, while it looks inviting and interesting, the film overall is pretty bland and a little boring in parts. 

The cast here is decent. They are ok actors, but most of them do not get all that much to do. A few are meant to show low to no emotions, the work done works well, but others are supposed to discover their emotions and they still come off mostly bland. When the most emotionally connected characters is the unseen, then dead, mother, there’s an issue with either the writing, the directing, or the performances. It’s all not bad, but not exactly memorable either. There’s something missing here too. Unless of course, having performances that don’t stick with the viewer at all is the goal.  

Then there’s the technical aspects of the film. On that front, the film does well. It’s well-shot with cinematography by Leonardo Harim and the flow of these images works through the editing by Tony Zhou. The visual work here is great, giving the film a bit of a style of its own while maintaining the more chill theme seen throughout the writing, directing, performances, etc. The décor and costumes work within their settings are well.  

There is some talent in With Love and a Major Organ, but the film overall is bland and loses the attention pretty early on, leaving the viewer to fight to keep with what is going on in the film. The performances are decent, the visuals work, but the story is just not grabbing. The main issue here is that this film has a ton of potential, there’s something to be said with this subject matter, matters of heart and soul, matters of people becoming too entangled in their apps and devices, there is something here, but the way it’s explored misses the mark.  

This year the Fantasia International Film Festival runs in Montreal from July 20th to August 9th.