Writer’s block is something that every writer fears and knows a little too well. How many nights have we stared at a blank page and wondered if we knew what we were doing if we were worthy of it? It’s part of the process of writing, it is part of the creative process, the worst part of it but it is still something that we all deal with. Sometimes you can try everything and nothing works, you are stuck in a rut, getting out of that funk is something that we all strive to figure out. But once you are out, for a few moments, you finally feel that validation that any creative person craves, the validation that the suffering might have been worth it.
This idea is exactly what Jamie Adams’ Love Spreads explores.
To keep their recent successes fresh, all-female rock band Glass Heart seclude themselves in a remote cottage to work on their second album. The studio is brimming with inspiration; even a lowly wall in the garden has once inspired greatness (Oasis’s Wonderwall, according to legend). Faced with mounting pressure from studio executives, singer-songwriter Kelly (Alia Shawkat) shuts down. Tensions form between the band members and manager Mark (Nick Helm) as frustrations as days tick relentlessly on. Digs and accusations mingle with boredom and machinations as they wait for Kelly’s creative block to lift.
Being creative is different for everyone and the process that one goes through is unique to each individual. There’s no right way to be creative, but sometimes the routine becomes what drags you down. Kelly has good intentions, she knows what worked for their first album and tries to replicate it because she believes that this is the only way that this will work. When others try to intervene, she refuses help, refuses to even admit what everyone knows. She is blocked. It isn’t until the arrival of Patricia (Eiza Gonzàlez) that she even opens herself up to something new. She might have feared the new element that is being introduced but in the end, it is exactly what she needed. That idea of needing something that you didn’t know you needed is just so real and isn’t only unique to the writing process. It rings true to everyday life too.
Filmed almost like a documentary, Love Spreads feels personal. Writer/director Jamie Adams finds a way to bring you into this universe in a unique way. While it might feel like it is filmed like a documentary, even with the way it is edited, it is clear that this is the way that it was intended and yet, it is so far from being one. The way the camera feels like an extension to the story, following the action in such a close range, staying always a little too long. It’s a style that fits this film so well, that showcases exactly what Adams wanted to do with this one. It might not have worked for other films, but with this one, it is perfectly suited,
Anchored by the terrific performances of Alia Shawkat and Eiza González, Love Spreads truly hit its stride once the two meet. If Shawkat was incredible from the start, the arrival of Gonzàlez in the film creates a dynamic that for the rest of its runtime just brings everything together. But the true standout of the film is Nick Helm has the stressed band manager. The way he is able to make himself so small when it is clear that he is overwhelmed, his quiet moments, his quirks, everything brings this film to another level every time he is on screen.
There could be comparisons made to 2018’s Her Smell. Love Spreads could be even called its tamed little sister. And yet, comparing it doesn’t do justice to this film. Sure, it takes a while to get going, but once it does, the film is entertaining to the end. The way the world opens up, the film’s endgame finally being exposed, it’s such a nice surprise that you can’t help but enjoy yourself.
(I will also need them to release the songs that the band recorded because those were bops.)