British director Christopher Payne has spent over a decade honing his filmmaking skills since the release of his feature debut, The Jolly Boys’ Last Stand (2000). He now returns with new offering Love Tomorrow (2012), a low-key relationship drama that centres on two dancers who have a chance meeting in London. Both are struggling through personal crises and an evening spent together sees them aid one another in different ways. Whilst the relationship is touchingly rendered, the non-professional leads do struggle to breathe life into poor dialogue and lack the experience to convince in intricate roles.
The narrative begins with Eva (Cindy Jourdain), who is wandering the streets reeling from some bad news. There she encounters an enigmatic Cuban dancer, Oriel (Arionel Vargas), who recognises her as a former ballerina and asks her to have a drink with him. A tentative romance develops between them over the proceeding twenty-four hours as they navigate London nightlife filled with vain performers, gently learning about the tumultuous events of of one another’s lives. Eva’s has been turned upside down by revelations about illness and infidelity, whilst Oriel’s woes stem from professional frustration and a fast-expiring visa. What really works best throughout Payne’s Love Tomorrow, however, are the multiple dance scenes.
Both leads are dancers by profession and the various sequences in which one or more of them engage in their passion all work nicely. The pain and the passion are clear and the scenes manage to covey both of the characters’ sense of calm and of self when strutting their stuff. There’s nothing especially innovative, but sitting amongst the rest of Love Tomorrow, the serenity of the choreography on display proves to be a quiet revelation in and of itself. Payne and cinematographer Paul Teverini manage to capture the intimate nature of the dancing with their impressive visuals proving another aspect that lends a air of class to proceedings. Sadly, whereas the film comes alive in its dance scenes, it remains fairly stagnant throughout the rest of its runtime due to an uninspired screenplay.
The dialogue rarely feels natural, whilst Eva’s situation provides a jarring streak of melodrama that not only seems out of place but also entirely unnecessary. Love Tomorrow’s various aspects become entangled in a pair of characters that are too complex to be played by first-timers. Jourdain and Vargas are not poor per se, but neither is capable of the subtleties required to convince on a deeper emotional level. It’s an unfortunate case where a lightweight and tender romance may have worked, but this is undone by the underlying and ill-conceived drama of the piece. Presumably this was done to allow Eva and Oriel to have a glimmer of light – each other – amidst the darkness, but it never quite comes off. Still, both are able to show off their primary talents, and we’ll always have the dancing.