Originally posted at Toronto Film Scene.
When three friends find a yearbook at Value Village from Chico High’s class of 1990, they start wondering what became of the graduates. One person in particular catches their eye, a Mr. Timothy Truelove. How can anyone ignore the perfect hair and smile of a man called Truelove? The friends, Clay, Michael, and Andrew, find out that the Chico High 20 year reunion is about to happen, so they decide to crash the party in search of this Timothy Truelove and the students of the graduating class of 1990. Directed by Samuel Kuhn, and screening at the 2012Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Finding Truelove follows the group of friends as they travel from Portland to Chico, California.
This film is like a loving memory of everything in the late ’80s to early ’90s. From the neon coloured titles to theme songs from classic shows like Knight Rider, it’s obvious that Samuel Kuhn has a fondness for the 1980s. Films of that decade have a certain charm to them. An innocent, almost wholesome feeling, and that’s exactly what you’ll get from Finding Truelove. Even the idea that three friends would find a yearbook and decide to crash a high school reunion seems straight out of an 80s movie. It may be a strange idea, but it’s also a very hilarious one. Watching Clay, Michael, and Andrew travel across the country asking people they run into about their high school days provides plenty of laughs.
The friends are never really sure what people will think of their odd adventure, but time after time they’re greeted with kindness and a certain amount of respect. The idea that someone would decide to find a graduating class 20 years later seems like something we may have all thought about at one point. Although it would probably involve an actual class that we were a part of. Instead, the friends have become interested in this particular Chico High class. They share their opinions on what celebrity they think some of the students look like or what they feel their social standing may have been. Soon, they start discussing whether you can learn anything about someone just by looking at their high school picture.
Along the way, the friends pick up a hitchhiker, Bruce. They instantly bond with him and share their wild idea of finding the Chico High class of 1990. This is a perfect example of why the film works so well. Clay, Michael, and Andrew are extremely likable guys. They’re very kind, a little bit crazy, and a lot of fun. People seem to be drawn to them and can’t help but find a little bit of joy in what they’re about to do. You can tell that they’re all great friends, and that the journey from Portland to Chico is the kind of insane thing only they would attempt to do.
The film does have flaws though. The fact that the three friends just jumped in a bus and headed to Chico is what really makes the film unique and fun, but the almost complete lack of planning starts to derail things about halfway through. With no real focus beyond finding Timothy Truelove — a fact that quickly goes from a major point to a minor one — there is a lot left to explore. When they finally reach their destination, the documentary is suddenly about three friends getting drunk with a group of people that they didn’t know before.
A few moments from the end of the film sum up some ideas that they could have been exploring the entire time. A little more planning and focus would have gone a long way, but Finding Truelove is still an entertaining film.
Finding Truelove is screening as part of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 11:30 pm, Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 9:15 pm, and Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 6:45 pm. Check the festival websitefor details and tickets.