Love Affair: Or, the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator Review
By Christopher Null
Darkly comic yet not entirely sensical, Dusan Makavejev's Love Affair is a Woody Allen-style "romance," complete with an accidental murder, Ph.D.'s droning on about sexuality, an autopsy, and a poem about rats.
In this, Makavejev's second major film, the Yugoslavian's wry sensibilities about love and communism our laid out with little fanfare or apology. In one telling scene, star Éva Ras (as the titular switchboard operator) woos a man into her bedroom by flipping on some Communist propaganda on her TV as a kind of foreplay. But maybe it is appropriate after all: Her beloved is a rat catcher by profession.
Shortly after the opening of Love Affair, we know Ras's Isabela is going to end up dead, so the question becomes how? The unreadable white-on-white subtitles are of no help, so you're largely left to figuring out Makavejev's curious picture based on imagery alone. And oddly, it isn't that difficult. Though Makavejev jumps around from present to past to non-sequitur (as when the aforementioned rat poem is printed on the screen), following the film is never difficult. I'm not sure what insight there is to gain about life from the bleak message within, but the balls-out portrayal of the daily, jaded life of the Eastern European communist is telling enough.
Aka Ljubavni slucaj ili tragedija sluzbenice P.T.T.
The cat's meow.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Tuesday 6th February 1968
Distributed by: Criterion Collection
Production compaines: Avala Film
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Cast & Crew
Starring: Eva Ras as Izabela, telefonistkinja, Slobodan Aligrudić as Ahmed, sanitarni inspektor, Ružica Sokić as Ruza, Izabelina koleginica, Miodrag Andrić as Mica, postar i zavodnik, Aleksander Kostic as Ekspert za seksualna pitanja, Zivojin Aleksic as Ekspert za kriminalistiku, Dragan Obradovic as Obducent, Rade Ljubisavljevic as Vodoinstalater, Aca Tadic as Jorgandzija