It should go completely and utterly unsaid, but dating is a beast very few people truly ever learn how to “conquer.” Be it most people’s natural hesitation to open up intimately to any one given person, or the very likely fact that more often than not a connection can’t be made between two people for the simple fact that their interests may be different, in today’s age of social networking and online dating websites, dating is a beast that’s hard to truly get a handle on.
But there are a few people turning to science with the hopes of possibly “hacking” the modern dating landscape, all with the hopes of proving that dating is barely more than just a series of algorithms in the body of a nerve-shattering interpersonal interaction. And now there is a documentary to introduce the world to these very men and their charmingly brazen look at love and dating.
Entitled Love And Engineering, the film comes to us from director Tonislav Hristov, and introduces us to a group of men who look to change the game of love. Led by Atanas, a Bulgarian engineer currently living in Finland, we become privy to he and his group of bachelor, science-focused buddies and their attempt to “hack” the world of dating scientifically for them in a similar way to the way they see the game has been hacked by women. It seems to have worked for Atanas, as he is a husband and father with a beautiful wife looking to have yet another child, but is there more to romance than they see? Is dating simply a series of scientific cues or is there truly a “spark” that needs to be lit between two people, something beyond the realm of brain wave charting and eye watching? That’s what this lighthearted documentary, and the men it follows, attempts to discuss.
The first thing any viewer will take away from this film is the tone with which everything is discussed. Save for a few heavier moments (there’s an argument near the back end of the picture that really hits a bit harder at just how off putting the idea of romance being “hackable” can really be), the film has a light-hearted and deeply charming tone, all of which is driven by the heartfelt openness that these men really have with their experiences. Atanas is an engaging lead character to follow, and each of these men get a moment or two to really drive home the idea that there is truly something to be said for the ability for one to “hack” a dating situation.
That’s ultimately the film’s thesis, right? Throughout the film we become subjected to a series of facts and scientific experiments that prove these men’s point. As mentioned throughout the film, women have been able to “hack” a romantic interchange since the dawning of time, just by the addition of makeup, a specific outfit, or anything they know will draw the attention of the man they are out with that specific day. These men, in a loveably playful way, have posited that geeky bachelors like themselves have certain things they can do to do just that. Getting at a larger point near the film’s back end, the film comes truly alive when they discover that this could simply be the current state of relationships, and not so much a “hack.” With the rise of dating websites and social networking, where your first impression is often times the impression that the other person has decided to give you instead of the “real” thing, like a profile picture. The film’s most interesting discussion is one had about what people find appealing at first glance, and even then, in the forming of a profile picture, there is a way to peacock, “hack,” a woman’s interest. Be it if you’re standing in front of an interesting or important building, doing something exciting, or simply give the person an extreme close-up, interests will be peaked for some people from the very beginning.
Overall, while the film itself isn’t all that aesthetically interesting (the high definition digital photography her is really crisp and beautiful, but the interior bar sequences and moments of real drama are the only times the film visually comes alive), and it doesn’t quite say much new about modern relationships, the way and tone with which it says what it wants to is bewilderingly entertaining and ultimately quite entrancing. A solid, if not all that explosive, meditation on modern romance and the state of relationships in this digital day and age, Love And Engineering is more so a proclamation than its actual title. In a Facebook era, love and engineering may be closer to one another than any normal romantic may want to believe.