Exclusive Short Film Premiere: ‘False True Love,’ Emily Sundblad and Matt Sweeney

Initially shown in last year’s Whitney Biennial, artist Emily Sundblad, musician Matt Sweeney, and filmmaker Mariko Munro collaborated to create the below video, which functions dually as a short film and music video. Sundblad and Sweeney’s stripped down, sparse cover of English folk singer Shirley Collins’ ballad “False True Love” accompanies Munro’s video, featuring Sundblad’s unique and hypnotizing voice layered on top of Sweeney’s acoustic strumming.

“[The song] is permeated with a deep romantic sadness and I love the everyday tragedy of the narrative-how easily a romantic prospect can be lost, or to realize that you love somebody when it is too late,” Sundblad explains.

The film follows the Swedish-born artist as she deals intimately with love and the betrayal of her lover (played by actor James Ransone). Sundblad croons, “But when you were mine / My own true love / And your hair lay upon my breast,” while passionately interacting with Ransone. Shortly thereafter, however, her voice carries words infused with anger and regret: “I wish to the lord / I’d never been born / Or had died when I was young / Then I never would have mourned for my old true love / Or have courted no other one.” The melody remains the same, as does her vocal tone, but alongside the words we see Sundblad stab and kill Ransone with no signs of remorse.

Prior to Collins’ version of the song, and now Sundblad and Sweeney’s, the track’s history can be traced to an 18th century British song called “Young Hunting,” in which a betrayed woman kills her lover when he rejects her. “We didn’t know this when making the video,” Sundblad says. “It is by chance that Mariko [Munro, the director] brought the song full circle, back to it’s origins, by scripting the video as an erotic murder story.”

Filmed in one day in Los Angeles and its surroundings, Munro, Sundblad, and Sweeney relied heavily on their friends for the use of locations and objects in the film, including collector and curtator Viet-Nu Nguyen’s home in Benedict Canyon and an old BMW station wagon. “There’s something about a murderess driving a totally normal suburban car that Emily and I thought could be funny,” Munro explains.

After showing in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, the short film was also screened at 356 Missio in L.A., but here we are pleased to make its exclusive internet debut.