Nun meets blind writer in a posh hotel elevator. Not quite a classic love story, but Poppy de Villeneuve's new short film, Love is Like Life But Longer, is also intended for an unconventional venue. Commissioned by the Morgans Hotel Group, the film's premiere coincides with the March 10 opening of their latest venture, the striking Mondrian Soho on Crosby Street.
In the film, a young writer arrives in New York to appear at a book-signing event for his latest novel. While riding in the hotel's elevator, he has a fleeting encounter with the aforementioned nun—a chaste, impermanent romance that hints at the mysterious potential the hotel offers. The talent behind the film also offers a glimpse at some intriguing possibilities; already well known as a photographer, de Villeneuve has transitioned into films, and she admits to being intrigued by the notion of shooting a film at the hotel. "I proposed the idea of making a film to the Mondrian, as hotels are such wonderful places for stories, with the [blending] of private and public spaces. Since the hotel is brand new, it's also a blank canvas, and we shot on the 25th floor, so filming in such a beautiful space was very appealing."
To craft the narrative, she worked with Simon Van Booy, who recently won the Frank O'Connor Prize for short-story writing—the most prestigious (and lucrative) award in the field—and whose debut novel, Everything Beautiful Began After, will be released in June. Inhabiting the role of the on-screen writer is Jeremy Strong (recently seen opposite Katie Holmes in The Romantics), for whom Van Booy specifically created the self-referential character; the nun is portrayed by Maya Kazan, granddaughter of the legendary director Elia Kazan. As if that weren't enough New York cultural credibility, another character is played by Broadway actress Joan Copeland, the sister of legendary playwright Arthur Miller.
Looking back on her just-completed short film, de Villeneuve admits that she has her sights set on more distant horizons. "I would love to do a feature-length love story eventually," she says. "But I would want it to be surprising. And it would definitely involve trains and train stations!"