“Love Is All You Need?”
A Role-Reversal Tale
“Love is All You Need?” takes us into a world where nearly everyone is paired up in same-sex couples, and those who fall for someone of a different gender are looked down on. Jude (Briana Evigan) is a female football star at her high school, with a gorgeous girlfriend (Emily Osment) and she is very popular. When she meets university fraternity pledge Ryan (Tyler Blackburn), she begins to have unexpected thoughts. As their relationship develops, Jude begins to wonder whether she’s really a ‘ro’ (a derogatory shortening of heterosexual).
Then there is Emily (Kyla Kennedy), who is interested in boys and not girls like the ones her mothers and society expect her to fall for. She befriends Ian (Jacob Rodier), who she begins to have feelings for and suspects that he might feel the same way. When her liberal teacher (Jeremy Sisto) announces that rather than doing the usual “Romeo & Julio”, they’ll be performing it as “Romeo & Juliet” and this excited Emily.
Connected to all of them is the Reverend Rachael (Elisabeth Röhm), a fundamentalist Christian who believes God is clear that only homosexual relationships are acceptable, and that people should do whatever it takes to stamp out perverted heterosexual behavior. Jude, Ryan, Emily and others all begin to face prejudice and threats that begin to turn deadly.Rocco Shields’ film, which she co-wrote with David Tillman, features a hypothetical America in which homosexuality is the norm.
“Love Is All You Need?” began as a short film in 2011 and won awards at several film festivals. At the same time, Shields received hate mail for it, and she flew to Florida at one point to defend a teacher who had come under fire for showing it in his classroom. Even before Shields completed the short version of her story, she had her eyes on a full-length version. “Love Is All You Need?” follows the intertwining stories of several characters, including a female quarterback whose romance with a boy causes great anger. At the same time, a younger girl endures savage bullying when her preference for males becomes apparent, and a drama teacher shocks parents by teaching Shakespeare’s same-sex romance “Romeo and Julio” the way it was “originally written” as an Elizabethan boy-girl love story.
The film reverses reality in some ways, but not in others. While characters with opposite-sex attraction are jeered as “ros”, they are also referred to as “gay” and other nasty names. As for the logical question of how a society can survive with only same-sex couples, the film makes mention of “breeding season,” in which men and women momentarily pair off for the sake of prolonging the human race.
Of course there is a villain who comes in the person of evangelist Reverend Rachel, whose calls for her followers to do “God’s work” provoke violence by the film’s end. The idea was for the film to create empathy — to feel what someone has gone through.
“Love is All You Need?” is set in a typical all-American town filled with loving married couples enjoying life in the suburbs with “white picket fences, happy children, and an evil hatred for anyone identifying as a “ro.”
Many of the situations in the film are true to life events that have happened either to Rocco, to her writing partner David (an openly gay man) or something she read or heard about in the news. The movie was created with a hope that the world could get a glimpse into what it feels like to be bullied for being different and make waves of empathy throughout each person.