Friday, February 14, 2014

Stuck in Love: Movie Review

A romantic drama that survives on the empathy for the main characters.

Younger brother, Rusty (Nat Wolff), is an aspiring writer; older sister, Samantha (Lily Collins), is an up-and-coming writer; and father, Bill Borgens (Greg Kinnear), is an accomplished writer. And, as you can guess from the title, they are all “Stuck in Love”. Rusty’s in love with a girl from his class who doesn’t know him, Sam refuses to fall in love, and dad Bill is still waiting for his ex-wife to come back to him.   2013

Directed by: Josh Boone

Screenplay by: Josh Boone

Starring: Nat Wolff, Lily Collins and Greg Kinnear

The hook for the film is that these are all writers talking about love from a writer’s point-of-view, as if they have something new to say. It seems a bit hokey at first, especially since they’re trying to be more profound or poignant than being funny. But eventually these characters, and what they have to say, grow on you. Their point-of-view is straight forward, and the characters are constructed well enough that you have no problem understanding how they have arrived at their current point in life.

Rusty is the typical poetic high school student in love with a girl he could never get; perhaps a typical role for Nat Wolff, but at least he has evolved into leading roles and Rusty is arguably the one character who holds the whole film together. Sam is the typical cynical college student who hops from guy to guy without caring about the consequences. Her parents didn’t provide her with much to look forward to, and she’s 19 – the last year of your life before you have accrued all the experiences you need to be a good writer (or, so the film tells us).

I liked Lily Collins as Sam, but I loved Logan Lerman as Lou, Sam’s potential love interest. He likes her, she doesn’t care, but obviously he’s going to teach her about love eventually. This is yet another character type for Lerman; Lou has just enough charisma to attract the audience to him, but not so much that we get annoyed with Sam for dissing him. He's only a supporting character so while he can't hold the film together, he can get us more interested in Sam.

There are a few storylines that I could have done without; in particular, Kristen Bell as Kinnear’s inappropriately-married sex interest, and Rusty’s girlfriend’s overly dramatic lifestyle. But the one thing these supporting characters do is bring out the empathy in the main characters, and that’s what makes “Stuck in Love” a pretty good film.

Similar Titles:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) - Uplifting teenage drama with humour, heart and soul.

The Oranges (2011) - A plethora of actors show how to make a dysfunctional family dramedy funny.

The Great Gatsby (2013) - Famous scenes and symbolism re-imagined beautifully but also problematically.

The Words (2012) - Unwrites characters who are well acted but provide very little substance.