Genre: Comedy, Drama
Directed by: Josh Boon
Starring: Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Lily Collins, Logan Lerman
Despite its subtle American indie-appeal and an endearing cast including Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connelly, Josh Boon’s Stuck in Love appears to have flown largely under the radar. Perhaps it’s the uninspiring title, on a par with the highly imaginative ‘Valentine’s Day’, or maybe it’s the generic promo poster that stifles the film’s charm. As with many films that quietly slip past many a cinema goer though, it’s a sweet little gem of a film from the man who will soon be bringing us The Fault in Our Stars.
Highlighting the wonders and pains of complicated relationships, the film focuses on the creative Borgens family. Novelist and father Ben is pining over his ex-wife, still setting a place at the table for her three years after she left him for a younger man. Ben hasn’t written a new book since Erica left, instead he fills his time pondering what his wife is doing, spying on her at night and having casual sex with his married neighbour. Ben’s son, Rusty, is a quiet creative type, more content with sitting in his room writing than actually living in the real world. He’s a hopeless romantic and besotted with the beautiful but troubled Kate. Then there’s Rusty’s sister Sam, who has built up a wall of cynicism since her mum left and refuses to let anyone in. Until she meets Lou, who refuses to accept she’s as pessimistic and bitter as she wants the world to believe she is.
On the surface the story might stick to the mainstream romantic comedy/drama formula but focusing so strongly on characters who are writers means there’s a sense of poetry to the narrative, a romanticism that’s genuinely sweet rather than sickly. There’s a sincere love of books that comes through the story, which will speak to anyone with a writer inside them. The realism is slightly off but it doesn’t seem to hinder the film’s ability to raise a smile, which it does throughout. That’s not to say that it’s all happiness and light because there are darker moments that hold plenty of emotional weight and might even produce a tear.
Boon knows how to bring out the best in his actors as well as his story, and the cast do a perfect job at becoming the dysfunctional yet lovable Borgens family. Greg Kinnear is on top form as always; he’s nailed the easy-going father role and his ability to bring dead-pan humour to a scene is always welcome. Jennifer Connelly makes for a sincerely mixed up woman, trying to win back her daughter’s love and fix her own life in the process. It’s in the younger cast members that the film’s heart truly reveals itself though. Lily Collins turns her back on weak fantasy roles in favour of a quick-witted and confident part as cynical Sam. Logan Lerman continues to play up the natural, off-beat charisma that made him so popular in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, whilst Nat Wollf is quite the revelation as withdrawn Rusty, awkward teenager one moment and bold hero the next.
With faultless performances and a story that leaves you feeling cheerful by the end, Stuck in Love is a gentle film with a lot of heart. Add it to the list of genuinely good indie comedy/dramas that are all the better for not being too popular.
Stuck In Love is released on Blu-ray and DVD on the 18th November.