With Love and a Major Organ: SXSW Review
In With Love and a Major Organ, director Kim Albright takes us to a world where people’s hearts are objects, and urges us to live and love to the fullest.
Ever since the internet and social media took over the world and became part of our daily routines, we have become more reliant on technology and started to live our lives filtered through various screens. Many films have tackled the topic of life in the digital era, addressing the lack of feelings that come from distancing our real self from the person we present to the world, hoping to be liked and adhere to societal expectations. But in her feature debut With Love and a Major Organ, director Kim Albright takes an original approach to this topic, crafting a compelling, unpredictable film that quietly draws you in and urges you to live, and love, to the fullest.
The film takes place in a world where people’s hearts are objects that can be removed from their bodies. Not that it would make much of a difference, as in Albright’s world most people are incapable of enjoying their lives, caring about others, and, in most cases, having any feelings at all. Except, of course, for our protagonist. Anabel (Anna Maguire) is very aware of the world around her, as she appears to feel things much more deeply than most of her peers. Knowing that something must be wrong with her, she goes to her therapist. “What do I do with my heart?,” she asks, only to be told to “violently suppress” her emotion, because her heart – the titular “major organ” – is “toxic.”
Needless to say, there’s nothing wrong with Anabel: on the contrary, there’s something very right with her. But it’s not easy to live in a society that blames you for having feelings and making yourself heard, and where every attempt to establish a connection of any kind is met with disapproval and gaslighting.
One day, Anabel’s manager repriminds her for not dealing with her clients as quickly as everyone else at the “virtual insurance” company where she works. On top of this, her mother doesn’t want to see her, her best friend is more judgemental and self-centered than usual, and the man she’s in love with rejects her, as he’s just as unfeeling as everyone else.
And so, Anabel makes a drastic decision: she rips off her heart and gives it to said man, George (Hamza Haq). “I hope my heart torches you eternally with emotion,” she writes to him. Needless to say, her words come true.
And so, just like that, the situation is turned upside down. For George, whose job literally consists of “pointing, clicking, and scrolling,” everything changes. He begins to feel a series of side effects that are all-too-familiar to Anabel: the need for connection, the search for purpose and fulfilment, overwhelming emotions, and a sense of pure joy when he experiences the world around him. Anabel, who used to see poetry in everywhere around her, suddenly becomes emotionless, and is finally able to strive at her job and remove conflict from her interactions.
Of course, this sudden shift also has consequences, andAnabel and George soon face choices to make. With the help of the former’s “major organ” and the latter’s mother (Veena Sood), they embark on separate journeys that will ultimately affect their lives for good.
With Love and a Major Organ uses a clever approach to wake us up from our technology-induced slumber and show us that there’s an entire world around us that we risk missing out on if we keep distancing ourselves from it. It’s a film that takes place in an unfamiliar context, but that still feels authentic and timely thanks to a great premise, believable turns from Maguire, Haq and Sood, a meaningful script (Julia Lederer) that also leaves room for irony, and stunning visuals (Leonardo Harim). Not only does it act as a wake up call to prevent a not-so-distant future from becoming a reality, but it’s also a genuinely enjoyable movie about love, life, and what makes it worth living.
Though it has some pacing issues and the ending is not as strong as the rest of the film, With Love and a Major Organ is still a thoroughly original, compelling watch, and a very impressive debut from director Kim Albright.
With Love and a Major Organ premiered at SXSW 2023 on March 12-17, 2022. Read our SXSW reviews!