The Love Machine

Smug and rancorous, Gordon Eriksen's 1999 mockumentary about East Village residents who use an on-line dating service lacks the soul of Jean Rouch's Chronicle of a Summer (1961), the trailblazing French documentary on which it's modeled. Becca (Marlene Forte), an investigative reporter and one-woman morality brigade, hunts down some of the site's pseudonymous users and confronts them with their fibs and sexual fantasies; clearly her agenda's not journalistic, but Eriksen's script never explains what she's after or why all but one of her quarries are black, Latino, or Japanese. Some of her interrogations are natural and hilariously candid, but most of them seem forced; Eriksen settles for cheap laughs at the characters' embarrassment rather than insight into their desperate need for sex or companionship.

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