The Tribeca Film Festival is currently in full swing in downtown Manhattan, and I had the pleasure of sitting down with filmmaker Ashley Horner and stars Liam Browne and Nancy Trotter Landry earlier this week to discuss their film, “brilliantlove,” which premiered at the festival last week. Described as a film that pushes limits American films are afraid to, “brilliantlove” is the story of two people with an extraordinarily intimate physical relationship whose lives become less than private when a pornographer comes across some photos shot by Manchester of his girlfriend Noon after Manchester accidentally leaves them in a bar.
Horner is astounded by the “serious rollercoaster ride” which has brought him and his film to Tribeca. He says he heard from a publicist only seven weeks ago after having just locked the picture but not yet finished production, and that the rest of the film had to be quickly finished in order to be ready only days before the film’s premiere last week. Horner says that people either love it or they “fucking hate it,” addressing the film’s stark showcase of uncensored full-frontal nudity and masturbation. Stars Browne and Landry say they were initially apprehensive about watching the film with audience, but according to Browne, the “sex scenes looked really good and really sexy,” and therefore it seemed to work. All three individuals believe that the film will be received with some skepticism in the United States and the United Kingdom, but shouldn’t cause much of a stir in the rest of Europe.
Horner believes that independent films need to be pushing the limits, and that “if you’re making films with little money, why not make original films?” He is very pleased to see his film achieve success at Tribeca, and he says that if anyone walks out in the middle of his film, he considers it more a problem for the individual than for him. He is more than content with the emotional responses he has seen from audience, describing them as ranging among “funny, beautiful, scary, and traumatic.”
Browne and Landry stress that Manchester and Noon are “totally connected and find each other fascinating,” and that in their relationship, “a lot of the time, they don’t have to say something.” Most of their interactions are either silent, physical intimate, or through listening to a tape-recorded story by one designed to arouse the other. The film starts out with a scene without dialogue, featuring the full-fledged nudity, intimacy, and passion of these two young people in love. Browne and Landry, in their first-film roles, with some help from Horner and screenwriter Sean Conway, have created two people who have sealed themselves off from the rest of the world and found a way to share something real. The explicitness of their affair may offend some, but according to the people who made it, this is the face of a true independent film.