Review: ‘Love You Tyler’ is a fever dream of a short film

Ari Itkin and Devon Diffenderfer’s short film played at a few Oscar-qualifying film festivals. (Screenshot via YouTube)

Love You Tyler details the absurd and chaotic ploy of Luke, a socially awkward 20-something, to evict his scruffy roommate Tyler. Their interactions open with the bizarre premise that Luke has suddenly gotten a new girlfriend, who just coincidentally happens to share a name and exact interests with Tyler.

Luke conjures up a series of white lies to annoy his roommate and bid him farewell. But in the process, the two roommates realize their feelings for each other are more amicable and intimate than they both initially believed.  

That’s my interpretation of Ari Itkin and Devon Diffenderfer’s short film that played at a few Oscar-qualifying film festivals. Love You Tyler was also recently picked up by ShortsTV, FilmShortage and YouTube’s Omeleto. The beauty of this short film lies in its sheer bizarreness and ambiguity — the entire premise and ending are open to interpretation among viewers and even its own director. 

“I still find myself seeing new things after I re-watch the film and getting convinced by what other people in the comments perceive to be true that I didn’t intend to being with…I think that’s a wonderful thing,” Diffenderfer wrote in a YouTube comment.

Aesthetically, Love You Tyler highlights the art of simplicity — the acting is effortless and so are the scripts and cinematography. It’s an artistic element that makes every bit of Luke and Tyler’s interactions more authentic and poignant. Each scene offers a glimpse and an added layer into Luke and Tyler’s relationship — and the sexual tension gradually builds up between the two until the very end, when it becomes the source of a cliffhanger. 

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In the film, Devon Diffenderfer stars as Luke and Ryan Pater as Tyler. Although the film focuses on one long conversation between the two roommates, both Luke and Tyler communicate with each other primarily through their body language and facial expressions — a nice touch that both Diffenderfer and Pater executed well. Silent pauses, furrowed brows and looks of bewilderment the two share speak volumes about their relationship and seemingly shared feelings of attraction.

Perhaps, one major question that’s left unanswered within the film is about Tyler’s own sexuality: Is Tyler closeted, and more importantly has he always had feelings for Luke? Although Tyler is aghast when Luke kisses him in the heat of the moment, Tyler never outwardly states that he’s gay — he only calls Luke “weird” and blatantly states that he’s “not his type.” So, perhaps this sexual tension was always there from the start, and it only became more prevalent during Luke’s efforts to kick Tyler out of the apartment.

“I am a magnet for romantic positive attraction,” says Luke in the opening scene of the film. Luke recites this mantra while lighting sage inside his apartment bathroom and manifesting “the law of attraction.” By the end of the film, it seems that he’s successful in doing so, even if it’s not the kind of attraction he was hoping for.

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What makes Love You Tyler so fun to watch is that it never gets boring or tiring, even after several watches. Diffenderfer’s use of subtle details and quirks throughout the film encourages viewers to rethink their initial interpretations and build upon Tyler and Luke’s conversation and relationship. 

A simple scroll through the film’s YouTube comments proves exactly that. Some viewers accepted the literal meaning of the film while others conjured up a collection of theories and speculations. 

A popular viewer theory is that Luke does indeed have a girlfriend named Tyler but in describing her, Luke’s own feelings for his roommate begin to show through. Another theory speculates Tyler was the mysterious caller at the end who called Luke, proving that the two roommates had always been in love with each other.   

Despite the theories and the wild guesses, Love You Tyler is a mind-boggling work that’s quite the rollercoaster. Be prepared to watch this film more than once and challenge your own understanding along the way.

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