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dir Drake Doremus
scr Drake Doremus, Ben York Jones
prd Jonathan Schwartz, Andrea Sperling
with Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston, Oliver Muirhead, Finola Hughes, Chris Messina, Ben York Jones, Jamie Thomas King, Natalie Blair, Edurne Ganem
release US 28.Oct.11, UK 3.Feb.12
11/US Paramount 1h29
Sweet and sexless: Yelchin and Jones
SUNDANCE FILM FEST
TORONTO FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
With a deliberately wistful style, this romantic drama never quite convinces us that its central couple is actually in love. There are several wonderfully telling moments along the way, but the over-constructed plot and too-cute cuddle fest just get increasingly annoying.
Furniture designer Jacob (Yelchin) meets aspiring writer Anna (Jones) at university in Los Angeles, and their adorable romance develops over their final year studying before Anna has to return to Britain for a wedding. But she has overstayed her American visa, so when she tries to return she's deported. Over the next few years they see each other whenever they can while getting on with their lives and careers. Jacob starts a relationship with Samantha (Lawrence), while Anna flirts with her neighbour Simon (Bewley). But they can't get each other out of their hearts.
The film starts off well, with an edgy tone, improv-style dialog and an offhanded awkwardness that's charming. But it never develops beyond this: Jacob and Anna are sweet and sexless, and the film shies away from physical intimacy between them (the only sex scenes are with their other partners). This is a problem because, with all of their cuddling, wrestling, pillow-fighting and splashing each other in the bath, they're more like brother and sister than star-crossed lovers.
And as they mope around, trying to make sense of the cruelty of fate, the people around them are more fun to watch, including Anna's lively parents (Kingston and Muirhead). That said, Jones and Yelchin have enough spark to undercut the relentlessly downbeat tone. Although the script gives them no help at all, as they're left playing friendless people who simply can't talk about their feelings or get on with their lives after making one seriously bad decision.
But if this is such a timeless romance, there's clearly a simple solution. But the sexist script insists that Anna has to move, when legally she can't. And even though there are some realistic emotions raised here and there, the cliched mechanics of the plot always kick in for another random disagreement, petty jealousy or relational wrinkle. So by the end, only undemanding moviegoers will be able to care.
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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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