Stuck in Love 81 Cast: Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Lily Collins, Nat Wolff, Logan Lerman, Liana Liberato, Kristen Bell, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Spencer Breslin Director: Josh Boone Running time: 97 minutes Rating: R, for language, teen drug and alcohol use, and some sexual content
Writer-director Josh Boone’s debut film Stuck in Love has so many touching and clever moments that when he occasionally loses his footing, his transgressions seem more disappointing than they really should be. Then again, Boone can make a movie about writers that doesn’t feel stiff or verbose (Writers was the original title of the film).
Assembling a solid cast doesn’t hurt. Greg Kinnear stars as Bill Borgens, an acclaimed and apparently financially successful novelist. While his output has been good, it’s also infrequent. He’s so busy obsessing over his ex-wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly) that he can’t take on another book. He’s taken to standing outside her window, hoping to spot discord in her current relationship.
Bill’s college-age daughter, Samantha (Lily Collins), and high school-aged son, Rusty (Nat Wolff), appear to have their dad’s literary gifts and his romantic hang-ups. Samantha’s first novel has been picked up by Scribner’s, but she proudly refuses to deal with an amiable classmate named Lou (Logan Lerman), who not only likes her but has her best interests at heart.
Rusty’s poems and stories have attracted the notice of a gorgeous young woman named Kate (Liana Liberato). Unlike his sister, Rusty leaps at the chance to be with a young lady every man in his class would like to be involved with. Unfortunately, Kate has some issues that Rusty’s love can do little to mitigate.
Because Boone is obviously a literary junkie, it’s a given that his dialogue will be sharp and funny. Nonetheless, he also has a decent eye for visual storytelling. Watching Bill stand outside Erica’s window waiting for her to come back the way that little kids await the arrival of Santa Claus is creepy and poignant. Kinnear’s tortured face makes Bill’s quixotic pursuit seem somewhat less silly.
The rest of the casting is solid as well. In addition to the effortless way Connelly portrays her ambivalence about Bill’s obsession, she’s an ideal choice because she really looks as if she could be Collins’ real-life mother.The real find in this film is Liberato, who demonstrates a fairly astonishing range for a 17-year-old.
In interviews, Boone has indicated that much of his original script wasn’t filmed in order to make a tight shooting schedule.
He could have cut a little more.
There’s a strange subplot involving Bill’s fitness-minded neighbor Tricia (Kristen Bell). Despite the fact that she’s married and would probably disdain Bill’s fondness for cigarettes, she has regularly scheduled trysts with him in the hope of helping him lose his obsession with Erica. Tricia’s actions don’t make a lot of sense and despite a valiant effort from Bell, she’s more annoying than amusing.
Then again, love has a way of making even the brightest look stupid. The Borgens family is still easy to relate to because their romantic stumbles are a little more common than they or we would like to admit.
MovieStyle, Pages 33 on 08/16/2013
Print Headline: Stuck in Love