Dr. Meleeka Clary writes, directs, and stars in Three Corners of Deception, a true passion project. The film explores a whirlwind romance that descends into an acrimonious divorce and custody battle. Clary uses the cathartic medium of cinema to criticize her ex and the unfair Hamilton County legal system. As such, it’s difficult to discern what is factual and what is colored by Clary’s heated emotional state. Much of it appears to be Clary’s attempt to rewrite her own personal history.
On a technical level, it’s a mess with hard-to-hear sound mixing and bizarre cinematography — but these can be chalked off to a first-time filmmaker and budget constraints. Amongst an amateurish ensemble, Clary stands out the most with her unapologetic chutzpah. But this is not enough to save the film’s glaring blemishes.
Three Corners of Deception attacks the people who have wronged Clary — her ex-husband, a number of judges, a doctor, and a court-appointed psychologist she calls “Dr. Liar.” She uses the playful device of having different actors portray the various personalities of her ex: Deceptive Melvin, Angry Melvin, Cheating Melvin, Mischievous Melvin, Suave Melvin, Romantic Melvin. It is a very confusing, slightly creative way to illustrate the frustrations of being with an untrustworthy partner.
This is a deeply personal film with an abstract vision. Clary uses Three Corners of Deception — all 139 minutes of it — to exorcise and hopefully make peace with her demons. Three Corners of Deception is a hot-blooded film that has very rough edges and is quite difficult to understand.
Lust Life Love is a kinkier, modernized version of Sex and City that follows Veronica (Stephanie Sellers), a blogger who shares her exploits as a bisexual polyamorist who frequently participates in threesomes, BDSM, and sex parties. Although Veronica enjoys her lifestyle, she must navigate society’s expectations for monogamy and her own jealousies that make open relationships difficult — especially when she meets Daniel (an endearing Jake Choi), an aspiring chef who excitedly dives into polyamory for the first time while his marriage crumbles.
Veronica starts to question the emotional stakes of her sexually fluid way of life when she becomes the subject of a documentary and her feelings for Daniel deepen, even more so when they add another partner, Maya (the magnetic Makeda Declet), who Daniel grows more attached to.
Stephanie Sellars is luminescent in the role with her serene disposition, soothing voice, and steady confidence. Sellars writes the script based on her autobiographical column in the New York Press and she directs alongside Benjamin Feuer. Since Sellars draws from her own experiences, the sexual scenes are titillating without being explorative. The filmmakers present the alternative subculture with careful thoughtfulness. In a cinematic landscape overwhelmed with sexless superheroes, it’s refreshing to see a film that deals with the adult issues of physical intimacy in such a frank manner.
Lust Life Love is a compelling depiction of a romantic life that is not typically seen on film, one that is told from the perspective of someone who has actually lived it. This lends an empathetic authenticity to the film that fascinates the viewer. It’s empowering to see a woman who unapologetically enjoys sex, particularly sex outside traditionalist boundaries. Sellars’ film is a bewitching, sex-positive delight.