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Review: Romance Scam


- Virginia García del Pino presents an interesting and stimulating performative documentary about love and romantic relationships in the Tinder era

Review: Romance Scam

What roles do we play in a romantic relationship? Are they just a rehash of the same old ones we always play? What do we look for in dating apps? Why is it so complicated to find a partner today? How have the ways in which we connect with and understand our partners changed? Do we compromise on many things while looking for love? Are we beings who are dependent on others? Is this dependence a blessing or a curse? Can we teach or be taught how to love others? How do we feel when we fall in love? These are just some of the questions that Romance Scam [+see also:
interview: Virginia García del Pino
film profile
attempts to ponder. The documentary, which was helmed by director, editor and audiovisual artist Virginia García del Pino, premiered at Seminci, passed through Zinebi and is now being presented at the Seville Film Festival, within the New Waves section.

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Romance Scam is a performative documentary film, shot live, which takes as its starting point and its guiding thread the high-profile case of the “romance scammer”, a professional seducer who made women fall in love with him so that he could go on to swindle them. As part of a workshop organised in the Cineteca in Madrid, the director begins reading a script she wrote for a film. Using this premise as well as a series of interviews with a sociologist (Atonio Agustín García), a writer (Lucía Lijtmaer), an anthropologist (Jordi Roca) and a philosopher (Josep María Esquirol), she attempts to converse about and reflect on the topics of love, romantic relationships in the Tinder and Instagram era, and the influence that the paradigm of romantic love exerts. The questions it raises are fascinating, without a doubt: how has our way of forging a connection changed over time? How do we communicate through dating apps? How important are sex and physical attributes in a romantic relationship? Why does romantic love endure as a hegemonic model, and what are the principles or ideals that underpin it? Why do we feel the need for recognition from others? What advantages are there to being in a relationship and being single? What does it mean to be single? How do we get over heartbreak? Why is it so painful when we feel betrayed by the people we love? Why do we sometimes end up hating that which we once loved? In short, what do we understand by love, and what do we look for in it?

García del Pino’s narrative style is also appealing. Her decision to film in one single space, clutching a microphone and using a handheld camera, and involving a fairly small group of people, allows her to achieve the spontaneity, levity (to help compensate for the seriousness of the topic), and intimate and reflective tone she is looking for. In this way, she manages to refresh and reformulate Love Meetings by Pier Paolo Pasolini (the documentary it draws its inspiration from) with a view to reflecting different experiences and modern-day visions of romantic relationships, via the figure of the Lothario as a metaphor for the deception or self-delusion that love can degenerate into. Perhaps its biggest limitation lies in the fact that, owing to the very restrictions of this format, it doesn’t really delve in depth into the questions it raises, and the performative element doesn’t always back up the narrative or help it to flow (especially during the musical moments).

Despite its shortcomings, Romance Scam is a very interesting documentary about love and its possible meanings, and about how the quest for it can bring out the best and the worst in us all. It’s a film capable of raising stimulating questions and fostering invigorating debates that really persist in the viewer’s mind.

Romance Scam is a production by Pantalla Partida Producciones, Artefacto Producciones and Ferdydurke.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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