STUCK IN LOVE Movie Review
Stuck in Love
R..•..96 min...•..Comedy, Drama
July 26, 2013 (NATIONWIDE)
WRITER / DIRECTOR: Josh Boone
Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Lily Collins,
Logan Lerman, Nat Wolff, Liana Liberato, and Kristen Bell
Three years past his divorce, veteran novelist Bill Borgens (Greg Kinnear) can’t stop obsessing over, let alone spying on, his ex-wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly), who ignominiously left him for another man. Even as his neighbor-with-benefits, Tricia (Kristen Bell), tries to push him back into the dating pool, he remains blind to anyone else’s charms. Meanwhile, his fiercely independent collegiate daughter Samantha (Lily Collins) is publishing her first novel while recoiling at the very thought of first love with a diehard romantic (Logan Lerman); and his teen son Rusty (Nat Wolff) is trying to find his voice, both as a fantasy writer and as the unexpected boyfriend of a dream girl with unsettlingly real problems. As each of these situations mounts into a tangled trio of romantic holiday crises, it brings the Borgens to surprising revelations about how endings become beginnings.
Leo Tolstoy’s famous assertion about familial happiness—“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” (Anna Karenina)—seems to ignore the possibility, nay probability, that each member of an unhappy family is also simultaneously unhappy in his/her own individual way, separate and apart from the manner in which the family unit is unhappy. And this is precisely the predicament of the Borgens family in Stuck in Love, writer/direct Josh Boone’s moving feature film debut.
Stuck in Love explores the role of faith in family and love—and the cost of its presence or absence—by tracing the emotional ripple effect of one family member’s betrayal. As each Borgens’ romantic adventures (and misadventures) yield individual growth and fortify family ties, Stuck in Love builds a strong case for the notion that faith is an essential ingredient of both personal and familial strength.
The 25-and-under team—Lily Collins, Logan Lerman, Nat Wolff, and Liana Liberato—steal the show with standout portrayals of teenage and twenty-something emotional struggles. Wolff’s performance is impressive for the range and depth of feelings emoted. Through her character’s disaffection and pessimism, Collins deftly shows how easily anger and fear can lead to emotional damage-control that is more harmful than helpful. Liberato is skillfully seductive as Wolff’s hauntingly self-aware and tragically damaged unrequited-crush-turned-girlfriend. And Logan easily matches every bit of Collins’ negativity with an adorable and genuine optimism that could melt the iciest heart of the most frigid coed.
In addition to these strong performances, Stuck in Love boasts frequently quotable and laugh-out-loud funny dialogue, an interesting use of voice-over narrative and famous literary quotes, and a truly delightful surprise cameo.
“You’re cute, Lou, but you reek of romance and good intentions.” – Samantha (Collins)
Touching without being trite, Stuck in Love’s nicely woven tale of family, love, and faith is an enjoyable option for those seeking a bona fide romantic dramedy in a summer box office that is hardly rife with such flicks.
Featured Image: © 2013 Millennium Entertainment
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