When a film leaves you speechless, with tears rolling down your cheeks, and you find your hand over your heart as you watch the final scene fade to black, you know you have just seen a masterpiece. First-time director Elena Beuca and husband/writer Dave Rogers take their own life-changing experience, cast the lead roles with the actual real-life characters, and bring us a story filled with heartbreak and hope—hope in the meaning of life and the goodness of others in “D-Love.”
“D-Love” stars Beuca and Rogers as Stefania and Dan Michaels, a couple in the midst of a calm crisis. Upon returning from a vacation abroad, awaiting finding their car at LAX, the two are approached by Ditlev Dharmakaya (D-Love), a young free-spirit asking for a lift going east. It’s apparent from the outset that Stefania and Dan are at odds with one another, their marriage struggling to stay afloat. Inviting this young “vagabond” to stay with them is not a part of Stefania’s plan, but Dan welcomes him with open arms. Over the next three days, Dan and Stefania confront their buried thoughts, feelings, and emotions, as the centered and calm D-Love appears to be the grounded force allowing them to find who they were meant to be. “D-Love” is simply beautiful with its powerfully emotional themes that could easily be a part of anyone’s life. It touches upon the very core of who we are as people and how we evolve in life and relationships.
Stefania is in a thankless job with a boss who is verbally cruel and abusive. She is the bread-winner, but is resentful of Dan’s inability to pick himself back up after losing both of his parents. He drinks too much…way too much. The resentment she harbors toward Dan is palpable. While Dan’s personality seems to be more of the comedic type, he too seems lost and together, this couple isn’t on the same page. D-Love’s easy-going, almost spiritual persona counterbalances the two, but there is always a sense of mistrust from Stefania. All three characters reveal their inner-most secrets, regrets, and hopes, allowing us to not only understand who and where they are in life, but to empathize with them. While D-Love’s personality may not be typical, there is an admiration for this wise-beyond-his-years young man who seems to have figured out the meaning of life.
What sets “D-Love” apart from so many movies is the unique story-line and the genuineness of the characters’ development. Using the real-life characters to portray themselves is also quite
daring, but it works. Beuca’s performance as Stefania is wonderfully heartfelt, capturing the real emotions of life’s ups and downs until she reaches a tipping point. Balancing this role with directing could have been a daunting task, but for her, this appears to be as natural as her performance. Rogers as writer and lead is equally skilled as he portrays a man who deeply cares, but is struggling emotionally. Humor paired with a complex and delicious cabernet are his tools for coping. It is the unusual performance by Dharmakaya as D-Love that is simply breathtaking. His ability to bring a sense of calmness to each scene makes you sit back and truly hear his thought-provoking words. He’s beautifully unique in every sense of the word. Together, this small ensemble cast creates one of the most well-balanced and meaningful stories about life and love.
If the powerful and real story isn’t enough to win you over to “D-Love,” then adding the gorgeous cinematography will. Each and every shot brings you into the moment, visually and emotionally. We feel the claustrophobic situations of Stefania’s work situation, the walls closing in on her home as she is unable to find freedom from the impact of her brother’s death, and the soothing and serene open areas, allow you to experience a sense of healing.
“D-Love” is an impressive directorial debut for Beuca. This gorgeous and rich story is filled with love and heart reminding us about what is truly important in life and the connections we make.
“D-Love” premieres at the film festival Dances With Films on Saturday, June 3rd at 7:15 pm. For more ticket information, go to DWF TICKETS