With Love and a Major Organ Review



  • With Love and a Major Organ is a funny, surreal, and poignant drama that explores a world where people’s hearts are made of individual objects.
  • The film’s unique stylized approach, reminiscent of directors like Yorgos Lanthimos, adds depth to its exploration of emotion and conformity.
  • The movie tackles important themes such as the commercialization of self-care and the impact of motherhood, while championing self-discovery and embracing intense emotions.

What starts as a stage-setting metaphor, “My mother used to tell me that her heart was a ball of yarn,” soon turns out to be part of the reality in which With Love and a Major Organ is set. This world is much like ours but flattened; everyone wears gray and suppresses any emotion stronger than mild ambivalence. One way in which the two worlds differ strongly, however, is that in this movie, people’s hearts are made of individual objects. Moreover, if you try hard enough you can even rip it out of your own chest, so things clearly work a little differently.

From director Kim Albright and writer Julia Lederer comes a funny, surreal, and poignant drama in which two characters, Anabel and George, navigate this world in opposing ways. Anabel feels everything; George feels nothing. Their paths intersect and Anabel soon falls in love, which is something George finds difficult to reciprocate. Anna Maguire plays Anabel, with Hamza Haq as George, and the two are joined by Veena Sood, Donna Benedicto, and Arghavan Jenati in supporting roles, the latter of which has some scene stealing moments.

With traces of the Netflix series Maniac or movies such as The Lobster and The Double, fans of quirky science-fiction that’s filled with feelings will find so much to enjoy in With Love and a Major Organ.

The Central Odd Couple

When we first get to know Anabel, she stands out among her gray-clad peers both literally and figuratively with her bright purple coat and extreme emotions. She is incredibly thoughtful, often late to work, and refuses to buy into the widely enjoyed methods of repressing emotion, all of which mark her firmly as strange, but human. Everyone else around her follows the rules and allows an app to dictate their lives, removing any discomfort from their existence but also stripping it of excitement and personality.

Something that everyone around Anabel finds odd is her desire to be outside, even if the weather is bad. She suggests to her friend Casey that they eat lunch outside, and the response she receives is “It’s gross out,” to which she makes the point, “It’s gross in, too.” Outside, she meets George for the first time, a very average man who also happens to enjoy eating in the park, and very swiftly, Anabel is enamored and recording love poetry to give to him. Part of George’s general apathy for the world is that this gift of poetry is beyond his comprehension, and he breaks her heart.

Subtly Stylized Science Fiction

A scene from With Love and a Major Organ
Common Knowledge Films

In keeping with a world that is slightly removed from reality, With Love and a Major Organ is interestingly stylized. Though unique in its own ways, the style used here is reminiscent of work by Yorgos Lanthimos or Richard Ayoade. Dialogue is blunt but humorous, colors are used to extremes, and characters’ behavior is stilted. The heavily regimented scenes in society contrast with occasional moments of reprieve in nature, with the beautiful Vancouver scenery providing a sense of freedom and more closely connecting with the world we are used to in real life.

Related: 11 Movies That Will Make You Appreciate Nature

It can be easy to mistake bold stylistic choices for emotional and thematic substance within a movie — think of the debate around wether or not Wes Anderson is more style than substance. But here, it’s clear that this is all carefully considered. Decisions such as the difference in clothing colors between Anabel and everyone else mean that less exposition is necessary. This is especially important given that the story is set in an altered reality which can often lead to overly expository dialogue in order to get the audience up to speed.

Strong Ideas About Strong Feelings

Anna Maguire and Hamza Haq in With Love and a Major Organ-1
Common Knowledge Films

At first glance, With Love and a Major Organ seems like it will be a sort of extended Black Mirror episode. Whether that would be a good thing or not is up to the viewer, but its inclusion of “Life Zapp,” an app that makes friends for you, finds you a job, and plans your wedding, suggests the story will go down the dystopian technology route. However, this is not the case. The filmmakers have bigger, more interesting ideas than another story about technology being, or potentially becoming, evil.

The reason Anabel stands out the way she does is not because she’s the chosen one or some kind of manic pixie dream girl, but rather because she has the capacity to feel things deeply. In this world full of repression and taking the easy way out, Anabel dives head first into precarious and intense situations. She loves to extreme ends, whether it’s with friends or potential romantic relationships, even when her affection and effort is not reciprocated, and it never is. While this might cause Anabel pain, the contrast between her experience of the world with George’s makes an excellent case in favor of feeling your feelings.

This heightened exploration of approaches toward life makes for a fruitful subject, even if the debate is simple at its core. Additionally, the way it has been abstracted through a quasi-sci-fi lens makes the movie feel less didactic in its presentation of these ideas. This extends to the more minor themes present here as well, such as a quiet exploration of the commercialization of self-care in which the practice of looking after yourself in order to improve your mental health has become just another way of selling more products. Here, everything is aimed at reducing and suppressing emotions, at a cost, rather than actually experiencing them.

Related: The Best Movies and TV Shows That Put a Spotlight on Mental Health

Another key theme that is gracefully included is motherhood. Once again, the contrast between Anabel and George’s experiences on the matter does a lot of work in conveying the movie’s ideas. For Anabel, her mother is absent, both physically and emotionally, as she refuses to meet with Anabel in the woods where they have a special cabin. George, on the other hand, has regularly scheduled dinners with his mother in which they sit in silence. Both of these mother-child relationships develop in ways that intersect with the ideas presented about big emotions and discomfort and the way these experiences are handed down from parent to child.

Pacing Issues Aren’t Enough to Slow it Down

Hamza Haq in With Love and a Major Organ
Common Knowledge Films

With its bold and fresh approach to the story, there’s a lot to enjoy here. However, where the movie falls slightly is in its pacing. It takes its time to get going, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it is simply careful to build the world we see and lay important groundwork for the rest of the movie. But things don’t end up kicking off until about halfway through the 90-minute runtime, so the back half of the action feels somewhat rushed. This is the section that really delves into some of the big ideas being discussed, so for them to not get a full chance to shine is slightly disappointing.

The speed at which the climax takes place means that Anabel’s arc lacks a sense of conclusion; she is just there while the action is taking place, without really taking part. With that being said, it’s hard to fault the movie to a serious degree when really it is impressive how much the filmmakers have achieved on a small budget.

With Love and a Major Organ gets right to the heart of the nuanced topics it is exploring by showing rather than telling. It champions self-discovery, big emotions, and difficult conversations, which are all ingredients to living a more fulfilled life than the alternative of smothering your feelings and conforming to the norm. Best of all, it does this without feeling like an advert or a self-help book.

With Love and a Major Organ recently screened at the Fantasia Film Festival. Watch this space for more information about its broader release, or keep up with the official film website here.

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