Stuck In Love: A Film That Sneaked Up On Me

featuresBriefing-An acclaimed writer, his ex-wife, and their teenaged children come to terms with the complexities of love in all its forms over the course of one tumultuous year.

Starring Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Lily Collins, Nat Wolff, Kristin Bell, Liana Liberato and Logan Lermann.

Written and Directed by Josh Boone

My Take-This movie snuck up on me and knocked me on my ass. When you go searching into the depths of Netflix on a quiet Friday night, a wondrous cinematic experience isn’t on the docket. You are trying to find something to pick up you interest and hold it for a couple hours before you drift away. Stuck in Love floored me and did so because it was sharp and to the point, carried a great cast and a special script.

A movie about writers struggling to figure out the complexities of life and how it’s harder to convert a real moment with a girl in front of you than it is to write about it on a computer. Greg Kinnear is the accomplished novelist who is divorced from his wife and quietly reeling from the split. He spends his days moping around in his robe in a beautiful house off the coast and having guilty pleasure sex with a neighbor. His daughter is getting published for the first time yet stays as far away from true love as possible. The son is figuring how to talk to a girl that makes him hurt inside while searching for his own story. The instant you see these characters, you are convinced they’ve spent their lives together. That’s hard to find movie magic. Kinnear, Collins, and Wolff are excellent here as a complex, disconnected yet passionate family reeling from a few unfortunate events.

Josh Boone directed this film in 2012 from his own script before he was anointed the honor of adapting The Fault In Our Stars(along with Wolff) this summer. Boone seems to have framed the Kinnear character around himself, because famous novelist Raymond Carver is referenced and there are certain lines and moments in the film that seem true to life. The way a Thanksgiving turkey is made. The awkwardness of talking to your ex-wife who hasn’t let go of your heart yet. Connelly is so underappreciated in Hollywood and doesn’t work enough. She can play conflicted emotion with little effort and she’s great here as a mother who can’t reach his kids anymore due to the separation. Collins and Wolff are exceptional in roles that seem one note at first glance yet seem to develop as the running time climbs. Logan Lerman(Perks of Being a Wallflower) is very good in a smaller role as a fellow writer who makes a run for Collins.

The film belongs to Kinnear in my opinion. Look up underrated actors in Hollywood and there will be a picture of this guy at the top of the page. He has been so good for a long time and rarely gets the right attention. He’s played the beggar, the fool, the sinner and the saint in his movie career, and here he brings them all together to produce a performance that is winning, true, and noteworthy.  While the cast is uniformly appealing and convincing, Kinnear is the glue that holds the film together. He makes any character he touches look effortless and heroic. His performance here reminded me of his work in 2007’s forgotten gem Feast of Love.

Boone does a good job with the pacing of the film and never lets it get too heavy or light. There are the references to Carver and also a Stephen King hat tip in the film. The script is full of odes to writers and the process of putting thoughts on the page. Watching this film woke up a need inside myself to write my first novel. These are the quiet types of films that will grab your attention. Like a great book, they seem simplistic and light on the outside until you turn the first few pages and get hooked.

I urge you to watch Stuck In Love. It’s earnest, heartwarming, wise, and edgy enough to keep a hold of the proudest cynic. It’s a winning combination that may move you to do something with y our life.



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