“Life is a series of suicides, divorces, promises broken, children smashed, whatever.”
Less immediate but no less powerful than Cassavetes other masterpieces, Love Streams moves in sudden starts and stops, pulsing through the story of two broken siblings desperate to fill their lives with connection, and, yes, some form of love. Its odd pacing, narrative obfuscation, and subtle surrealism make it a tough film to process, but one that feels immensely rewarding.
Sarah, having been rejected by her husband and daughter, attempts to connect with every person, animal or object she meets in an increasingly exhaustive fashion. Robert attempts the opposite – purposefully structuring his life around a series of temporary people and pushing away those that could hold permanence. When Sarah shows up on Robert’s doorstep, they are forced to reconcile the world around them with their own philosophies. Is Sarah proven right? Does her desperate loving overcome her brother’s emptiness?
The film does not provide an easy answer, but it does hint that Robert might be changing. As the film moves along, it gets more and more surreal, culminating in a strangely cathartic moment with a dog appearing as a naked old man. Love Streams seems to suggest that the very pull of love alters reality itself. Maybe Robert doesn’t find love. Maybe he can’t. But its very presence in his home is enough to place him in a new, baffling situation, another universe in his old house.