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‘DTF’ review: Swipe right

The best laid plans…

DTF is a documentary not as unique to current times as it first seems. It is a film about a person’s search for love. The film focuses on a widowed airline pilot. As he flies across the world, he uses the popular dating app Tinder to find the woman of his dreams. It certainly is an interesting set up. since apps are such an integral part of today’s dating world.

Predictably, the film goes into more than just find love in the world of dating apps. It would only make sense DTF would visit the nature of love and romance. Most journeys for love are also very introspective, after all. This film does not go into those expected directions. Before long, the audiences realizes it is a minor miracle this documentary ever came to be.

The airline pilot “Christian” is clearly not interested in participating in filmmaker Al Bailey’s vision. He is motivated by selfish and hedonistic desires. Where he was once an object of pity, he quickly becomes the antagonist. Sudden surprises often spring up during documentaries and an uncooperative or dishonest subject is one of them. This chaos brings an added dimension to the genre that can be very intriguing.

It never quite reaches those level of interest in DTF. Through no fault of Bailey, things go off the rails constantly. What at first engages the audience is more tedious than interesting. The main issue is the main character. “Christian” is a disgusting human being who is uncomfortable to watch. As DTF progresses, the theme switches from finding love to finding sex. In other words, “Christian” is just a dude trying to get laid.

At this point (which is unfortunately very early in the film), DTF becomes hard to watch. There are plenty of people looking to get drunk and have meaningless sex. A whole documentary about one is unnecessary. Credit to Bailey for trying to change the direction of his film on the fly. It is clear from the light hearted opening he went in with the best of intentions. As “Christian” shows what kind of man he really is, Bailey keeps attempting to keep pace. It is a noble effort but it does not work well.

What ends up happening is DTF comes off as directionless. There is a story here about one man’s downward spiral. Bailey also tries to start a bigger discussion about problems in the airline industry and addiction. Nothing ever sticks, though. When the film is constantly forced to move on to new ideas, how can the audience expect a focused documentary?

Documentaries can be very difficult to film. Unlike a movie, there is only so much control the filmmaker has. DTF is an example of this. Documentarian Al Bailey does everything he can to keep pace in a very commendable effort. In doing so, he basically makes a documentary about being unable to film a coherent one. It is interesting to a point, but it is a difficult watch.

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