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D-love

A vacation in paradise will soothe a lot of troubles, but of course it can't work on everything. For one married couple, for instance, it hasn't changed anything. Wife Stefania (Elena Beuca) has pulled in on herself and can't understand why her husband Dan (Dave Rogers) seems able to talk freely and happily to everyone but her. Compounding the problems, Dan has been out of work for some time, leaving Stefania to support them in a job she hates, working for one of the most evil bosses ever, Annie (Christine Fazzino).

After a hellish return flight -- you know, the usual stuff, though as far as I know neither of them was physically dragged off a plane -- they're finally home in Los Angeles. At the airport, they encounter a young man (Ditlev Darmakaya) who asks if they can give him a ride east. Stefania suggests giving him money, since they've got quite enough to worry about without letting strangers in their car, but Dan is appalled that the young man is hitchhiking and insists on driving him to the bus station.

Attempts to pronounce his long and difficult Danish name earn him a nickname: D-love, which delights him. But chance keeps D-love around longer than anticipated, and before Stefania knows what's happening she's playing reluctant hostess to a modern-day hippie who prefers to go barefoot and doesn't use soap. Meanwhile, Dan blossoms, taking yoga lessons from their guest and instinctively confiding in D-love about his dream of having his own cooking show.

But whether they realize it or not, both his hosts need D-love in their lives. Both are struggling after losing beloved family members and, caught up in their own grief, have lost touch with each other in many ways. When Stefania receives further terrible news, it threatens to drive a permanent wedge between the two. But now D-love understands what's brought him to them, and his presence might be just what they need.

These days, D-love's approach to life can seem ridiculously old-fashioned and far too trusting. He never thinks about money, using a barter system for everything, and is confident that whatever he truly needs, he'll find... somehow. Certainly Stefania can't seem to decide if he's hopelessly naive or just a con artist. Dan has it right, though -- there's something about D-love that's absolutely charming, his gentle humor and calm wisdom slowly winning over even the reluctant Stefania.

I'll give it four and a half out of five. Like its title character, the movie pulls you in and lingers in your mind well after it's over. Darmakaya's performance is pitch perfect, genuine and spiritual without ever going over the top. Dan, Stefania, and their troubles are equally real and overwhelming, both of them struggling to find their way and both at times doubtful that that's even possible. But the ultimate, hopeful message of this film is that sometimes, we find ourselves exactly where we need to be -- and sometimes the things we need most show up exactly when they should.

Image: 
Stefania and D-love meeting at the airport

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