Stuck in Love, 2012.
Written and Directed by Josh Boone.
Starring Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Lily Collins, Logan Lerman, Nat Wolff, Kristen Bell and Liana Liberato.
A family of three writers all experience different kinds of love, respectively. The father, William (Kinnear) longs for the love of his ex-wife, whilst his children find love in their academic classes. All reflect the complications and comforts of falling in love over the course of one year.
Stuck in Love packs a great deal into its 97 minute run-time – far too short to respectfully analyse the complexities of love, and slightly too long to follow a family of humdrum writers. You can sense director/writer Josh Boone’s zeal to bring all his muses and musings to life, yet it’s not something the cast appear to share.
Over a decade since the magnificent As Good as It Gets, Greg Kinnear has not found the same spark signalling all throughout James L. Brooks’ seminal romantic comedy (bar Little Miss Sunshine). Here he seems at his most lacklustre, merely inserting himself into the scenes he needs to be in. The same can be said for Jennifer Connelly and Kristen Bell, with the former shedding some tears for good measure.
The younger actors, on the other hand, do inject some vitality to the piece. Lily Collins as the pivotal family member – Kinnear’s daughter, honoured with her own novel’s publication – moves the narrative unlike any of the other characters. Her brother, played by Nat Wolff, has a relatively similar story arc, sadly giving little individuality to the overall plot. What separates the brother and sister is their love interests. Whereas Wolff gets paired with Liana Liberato (unconvincing as a teenage girl with a “history” of drug and alcohol problems), Collins has Logan Lerman as her boyfriend. Lerman has put his stamp on the 00’s romantic drama genre with The Perks of Being a Wallflower and has terrific presence because of it. As the film drags for a solid hour, Lerman’s character suffers a dramatic loss and steals the film away from every single member of the main cast. It says a lot that a supporting role manages to gain the most empathy from four other key leads.
The main issue with Stuck in Love is its lethargic pace. It moves to a clichéd crescendo, directed by a series of forgettable incidences. The structure – set over a course of a year/in a loop – tragically emphasises its faults, the notion of repetition and cyclical cinema.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Piers McCarthy – Follow me on Twitter.