Will you be headed to the movies this month? If so, you’ll undoubtedly find your usual offerings of romantic comedies, CGI thrillers, horror stories, crime flicks and animated tales. This time, though, you might want to consider a different type of film; as in, very different.
About the movie
The Secret Society for Slow Romance is a study of two independent filmmakers who mainly spend a lot of time talking over dinner. (This brings to mind My Dinner with Andre, which the late movie critic Roger Ebert named the best film of 1981.)
In Secret Society, the character of Rene is portrayed by Sujewa Ekanayake, who also wrote, directed, filmed, produced and edited this unique creation. He’s rigid, composed, supremely confident and madly in love with both filmmaking and New York City, where the story takes place. Several Big Apple research institutions have named him the Happiest Man in North America.
His counterpoint is Alia Lorae as Allyson, also an indie filmmaker and equally self-assured and ambitious. Unlike Rene, though, she’s high-spirited and embraces a number of kooky ideas and opinions. An independent movie website has voted her Most Productive Person in New York City.
The two draw from a well of deep subjects sometimes approached seriously and sometimes with feel-good humor. Over time, they cautiously begin to share personal issues about themselves.
At its heart, the story is a romance on different levels, although not driven by your standard boy-meets-girl plot. Here we are provided adequate time for the leisurely conversations necessary for love to take root and blossom.
Rene and Allyson begin to date and are soon spending time walking around New York City while holding hands. (The tale is as much a cozy love letter to Rene’s adopted hometown as it is a story of revelation and romance.) The film, eccentric in every aspect, even has the optimistic pair developing a plan to end worldwide poverty.
Separated into chapters, scenes here unfold with a soft, warm glow and with camerawork that frequently lingers—perhaps too long at times—on interesting people, objects and spaces. The story itself is fueled by conversation and human connection.
There is joy and optimism in a story about two brilliant, independent people who function off the grid. If such a movie is in your wheelhouse, you’ll find yourself thinking about the world around you long after you leave the theater.
This film is destined for art houses in the often-funky sections of inner-city America. It’s a unique tale and is not for everyone, but then it’s not trying to be.