It's Valentine's Day, the day in which Big Chocolate, Floriculture Inc. and Baubles 'R' Us conspire to pressure oafs and oafettes into treating their partners the way they should on a random August Thursday. This means it's high time to check in with Cartier, my favorite upscale producer of bedazzled soap dishes and romanticalistic branding videostuffs.
The latest "Cartier Love" campaign component, "Painted Love," went live a few months back. Like those projects that came before it, featuring music by emotional luminaries like Lou Reed and films by a probably-famous-and-supertalented guy who I've never heard of because I am ignorant and like movies where stuff done gets blowed up, it seeks to provide an "individual interpretation" (Cartier's words, not mine) in response to the question "How far would you go for LOVE?" To date, answers have included "I would wander through dimly lit alleyways looking lost and forlorn" and "I would contort my sharply cheekboned face into an expression that connotes emotional dislocation."
"Painted Love" is spectacular and hilarious, for reasons other than the auteur intended. Here's the second-by-second breakdown that a work of this supreme artistry deserves - nay, demands!
0:03: Opening credits. Words on screen. Elegant. Excellent start.
0:08: Viewers are informed that the music has been composed and performed by the band Air. They are French, as are Cartier and many other parfumiers. The synergistic volcano threatens to blow sky-high.
0:18: We meet our protagonist, a bearded artist guy who lives in the sort of loft usually inhabited by bearded artist guys or homeless people who burn pizza boxes for heat. He walks around with a pensive gaze plastered across his mug. This suggests that he is bothered.
0:24: Blink-and-you'll-miss-them hallucinations of a woman or a picture or something. My verbatim notes: "Artist guy flashes on Disney Pocahontas."
0:33: As it turns out, the Pocahontas hallucinations were just a filmic metaphor for fleeting artistic inspiration. Duly filmically and artistically inspired, the dude starts drawing furiously on a large piece of paper laid out on the floor.
0:43: He continues to make swirly charcoal smudges on the paper. His white linen shirt is getting soiled. Is Cartier looking to get into the detergent business?
0:49: Artist Boy gazes at his unfinished masterpiece, frustrated by its lack of what my online French-to-English translation dictionary calls a certain "I don't know what." He appears to contemplate either his mortality or his finite color scheme.
0:51: More colors it is, with blues added to the prismatic palette. Take THAT, you monochrome monsters.
0:58: Artist Boy creates wildly, as if fueled by an undiagnosed mania. He adds yellows and reds. This is stupid.
1:07: Check out the focus of this guy. His eyes burn with the fire of a thousand underlubricated contact lenses. His face twists with the anguish of a thousand sips of over-tart lemonade. He is bad at his job.
1:16: Oh man. He is painting as hard as Moses Malone dunks. He has almost certainly stained his white linen shirt beyond salvation. Even Cartier's new LoveSuds detergent won't be able to save it.
1:22: We get a glimpse at the half-finished project. It appears to be either a curled female form or a rough draft of a rubberized superhero who's gonna clean up this cesspool of a city but good.
1:26: Artist Boy falls on the floor next to his masterpiece - which, naturally, comes to life. It's the gal, not the rubbery vengeful antiheroic superhero. That's a bummer.
1:32: Wait, check that. The animated female form morphs into either a flame or a mermaid. It seems an appropriate time to note that nothing I have seen so far makes me think about love, jewelry, fragrances or anything else related to Cartier's brand or product line.
1:45: The animated girlybeing sidles up beside Artist Boy - who, as most artistes do while in the throes of creative desperation, passes out on the floor next to his creation.
1:49: He wakes up into a tortured dreamscape. We know this because the camera turns all sideways-y. And suddenly…
1:58: …he's outside in New York City, I think? And lonely? He's wearing a jacket over his linen shirt to obscure the paint and muck stains. Even in his disheveled state, he had the presence of mind to accessorize.
2:08: Wait! It's the animated betongue'd mermaid she-flame! And she's slipping away into a nightclub! Pick up the pace, fella!
2:11: The bouncer waves Disheveled Lonely Artist Boy past the velvet ropes. Because that's the precise type of clientele such venues seek to attract - unless we're still mired in the tortured dreamscape, in which case it almost makes a modicum of sense.
2:17: Inside, the lights are dim and everybody is slo-mo dancing. Again: no Cartier jewelry or positive brand identification therewith.
2:27: Club people do club-people things. I'm bored. The YouTube tags for this clip include "AIR," "Air (French Band), "Painter," "Paintre," "Jewelry" and "New York." Very helpful.
2:37: Artist Boy makes eye contact with his muse, or maybe not. He goes into the bathroom and, agonized, examines his well-manicured nü-bohemian artist beard in the mirror. In the reflection, he catches a glimpse of his animated inamorata. I am just starting to understand that she represents his artistic muse. I am a little slow today.
2:59: Lonely Museless Artist Boy rushes out of the nightclub and suddenly it's morning. Kudos to Cartier for refusing to be bound by the constraints of the temporal continuum. He starts running.
3:09: Running up stairs, glimpsing dress-like fabric folds beckoning a flight above.
3:16: In the ascension-machine hierarchy, loft elevator ranks above boring regular elevator and mall escalator, but below electro-jet-pack.
3:24: Artist Boy reenters his apartment and removes his jacket to reveal a still-smudgy shirt. Again, much love for the preservation of continuity.
3:39: I'd describe what the animated figures are doing now as "love-swimming." The smudgy shirt comes off and the animated avatar self-representations start snogging. Cartier is a manufacturer of jewelry and perfumes.
4:04: Ah. The two love-avatars appear to be wearing matching gold bracelets. Branding!
4:23: Long fade-out, sans credits.
Postscript: I should've read the YouTube blurb before I watched this thing. Had I done so, I would have realized that "Painted Love" "follows the trials and tribulations of a young artist in New York as he searches for his muse." In conclusion, I don't understand brand marketing.