The room is silent. There is a sense of anticipation as sharp dressed film-goers wait with their complimentary drinks. It is already apparent that this is no ordinary cinema experience. This is, in fact, the world premiere of festival director Simon Powell’s Girl Shaped Love Drug at the Greater Manchester Film Festival.
Shot amongst the streets of Manchester, this gritty fairytale tells of a romantic, yet simplistic love story set within our very own city. Powell effectively captures the spontaneous one-day adventure and developing narrative of ‘him’ (Sacha Dhawan) and ‘her’ (Rachel Austin) as their personalities unfold. Although the vital ingredients of ‘boy meets girl’ are present in this film, this is not a case of your typical romance. Finally! The characters that grace a romance hold some sense of realism! Whether this is due to the cinematography or sharp screenplay, we have certainly witnessed this couple that walk awkwardly together in amongst the city streets.
Girl Shaped Love Drug flits between being what seems at times a very light-hearted, realistic documentary to providing us with moments of very powerful theatre. Be certain to be entranced with an intense scene from Dean Andrews (Ashes to Ashes). Powell cleverly juxtaposes aspects of a traditional love story with a bitter sense of realism, which is enhanced through the use of beautiful aesthetics. However, this can often create in certain scenes a deliberate, uneasy effect.
Shooting on location across various areas of Manchester city centre, the film creates a deep resemblance to other contemporary British realism films, including those of its ‘daddy’ Shane Meadow’s Dead Man’s Shoes (2004) and This Is England (2006). The film often creates what seems a ‘fly on the wall’ approach, embodying aesthetics of a documentary style, especially through the use of a hand-held camera. Powell’s romance is beautifully shot and the aesthetics are certainly reminiscent to elements of the French New Wave, through its black and white cinematography, improvisational acting and on-location filming.
We often hear of New York, Venice and Paris as the cities of love, but its a breath of fresh air to see something a little different to the conventional romance. With Girl Shaped Love Drug, Powell has created something a little more realistic and closer to home, stating that he wanted “to work with old Manchester to reflect an old story which is love”. At the crux of it Girl Shaped Love Drug is a love story with a twist and there is no pretence about this. This is a film as much about Manchester as it is about boy meets girl.