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The Independent Critic

Lorrie Chilcoat, Ahmad Dugas, Jessica Cook
Ahmad Dugas
25 Mins.

 "Love Is" Review 
In Love Is, Thomas (Ahmad Dugas) and Deanna Burnett (Jessica Cook) are enduring a difficult time in their relatively young marriage. With a love and commitment that never wavers, Thomas demonstrates to his wife that their wedding vows are not easily broken.

With simplicity and remarkable tenderness, writer/director Ahmad Dugas has created a beautiful and rare thing with Love Is, a 25-minute short film that is romantic and real and innocent and raw and surprisingly intimate given its relatively brief running time. Dugas gently takes a slice of real life, an event that is slowly revealed over the course of the film, and weaves into it all the hopes and dreams of a young couple attempting to build a life with one another.

We learn early on that both Thomas and Deanna are good people, Thomas as an honest and hard-working mechanic and Deanna as motivating and encouraging fitness instructor. They are good people, honest people and, quite apparently, madly in love. A year later, we are with the young couple again and, quite clearly, there are signs of marital distress. Something has changed.

Rather than build unnecessary drama, Dugas allows the marital tension between Thomas and Deanna to be the story itself. The "why" will be revealed soon enough, but the real story of Love Is really and truly is that love is.

Love is real.

Love is patient.

Love is kind.

Love always endures. Quite simply, that's how Love is.

Ahmad Dugas and Jessica Cook have a comfortable, lived in chemistry that makes their relationship believable. Dugas projects a strong yet vulnerable presence that makes you absolutely believe he would not easily give up on someone he loves. Arguably, Jessica Cook has the more challenging task as Deanna shifts dramatically about 1/3 of the way through the film. This is actually where Cook is her strongest, embodying a young woman whose entire self-perception has changed dramatically. There are scenes between that Thomas and Deanna that are nothing short of enchanting, scenes of wonder and love and celebration for all that marriage is and should always be.

D.P. Clint Engles lenses the film beautifully, complementing the film's intimate and natural dialogue with scenes that are framed so comfortably that you won't realize their power until the closing credits have rolled and you're still sitting there going "Wow." The original music by Gary Amstutz serves as a true companion for the film, never reaching for highs or lows but, much like Thomas, remaining steady and constant.

Only recently completed, Love Is has already been accepted into the Tulsa International Film Festival and will undoubtedly prove to be popular as a rare romantic yet socially relevant short film on the indie film festival circuit. With the way that love is presented in the film, Love Is would also be a terrific choice for faith-based film fests seeking films that would appeal to a wider audience. Never preachy but always vividly realizing the sacredness of love and commitment, Love Is may be one of the very few shorts that can be called the perfect date film with the one that you love.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic