Oftentimes, the best magical realism begins with a simple idea or metaphor. How we communicate those metaphors is very much in question, though. Director Kim Albright and screenwriter Julia Lederer take the idea of “giving one’s heart away” quite literally. The resulting sci-fi drama is both a wonderful reflection on the power of love and finding one’s power outside of relationships.

Anabel (Anna Maguire) finds herself wanting more out of her relationships. Her friend Casey (Donna Benedicto) has become obsessed with technology, often favoring the possibilities it presents instead of Anabel’s presence. As she tries to navigate a world losing connection with itself, she meets George (Hamza Haq). The two hit it off, but something is amiss with George. Can Anabel survive in this world where connection, in all its forms, seems to have been lost?

The story and direction from Albright and Lederer open up questions about culture in the future. The adaptation of Lederer’s play seems to open up new avenues for Albright to explore. In many ways, it’s the perfect entry at SXSW, solely because it warns of the danger of technological over-reliance. While one might want a more nuanced take at times, Lederer’s screenplay extracts most of what it can out of the characters and setup.

It’s easy to write off the fear of technology, but the film presents far more intricate ideas over its runtime. There are true questions about the nature of co-dependency, not only between romantic partners but familial and friendships as well. Even though we might struggle for connection, our inability to build healthy relationships speaks to larger concerns. At what point does our yearning for a return to old friendships cause us to stall out on our emotional growth? Being locked in how things “used to be” prevents evolution and breeds toxicity.

The performances from Maguire and Haq are quite impressive, especially after a major moment in the story. Their characters approach life from very different paths, but each performer must have a mastery of their emotional range to fully sell the story being told. Their range impresses, and their chemistry elevates the film over its first act. They create some beautiful moments together.

DP Leonardo Harim never lets a shot fall flat. With Love and a Major Organ surprises on this front, imbuing scenes with gorgeous purples and neons. Even in office scenes, Harim’s camera captures emotion and storytelling beats, an excellent sign that Albright knows how to block sequences. There’s a lot to love in the pure visual storytelling of With Love and a Major Organ, even beyond the metaphysical questions it poses.

With Love and a Major Organ feels like the big swing one would expect from an indie sci-fi feature. Strong performances help elevate the screenplay, which itself is already focused on complex relationships. The direction stands out above all, and Albright proves she can handle otherworldly ideas with care. Building on an emerging trend of strong lo-fi sci-fi, With Love and a Major Organ asks you to open your heart and mind to something special.

Alan’s Rating: 8/10

What did you think of With Love and a Major Organ? Let us know in the comments below! Catch With Love and a Major Organ at SXSW 2023.

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