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New Zealand director Florian Habicht defines genre-defying in this reality-blurring documentary about his attempt to film a love story on the streets of New York.

Taking on dual roles of director and lead actor, Habicht casts himself as an avant-garde film maker who falls in love with a Russian model, Masha Yakovenko, after he sees her carrying a plate with a single slice of cake on the subway.

Taking to the streets, Florian asks seemingly random New Yorkers “what happens next?” building the plot around both their suggestions and the advice of his bizarre German father during their many Skype chats.

Florian’s infatuation with Masha fuels both the documentary and the plot of the film and, much like the documentary itself, is constantly crossing the boundary between reality and fiction.

The interaction with New Yorkers is both an engaging and welcome break from the confusion that is Florian and Masha’s faux relationship, with the gritty Manhattan characters giving the doco a much needed dose of comedy.

While Florian’s eccentricity lends him a puppy-dog like vulnerability the audience can connect with, Masha’s disconnection – whether a deliberate directional decision or not – it makes it difficult to believe in the relationship.

The quirky contrast of ‘real life’ and ‘scenes’ is visually well done, but the constant questioning of what is real and what is fiction makes it difficult to lose yourself in the love story.

Verdict: two stars



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