Complete A-Z list

No Strings Attached


Stars: Natalie Portman, Cary Elwes, Kevin Kline, Greta Gerwig, Lake Bell, Ophelia Lovibond, Olivia Thirlby, Chris Bridges, Jake Johnson

Director: Ivan Reitman

Perhaps Portman felt that she deserved a dramatic rest after going through the obvious emotional and physical exertions of Black Swan. Otherwise it’s hard to see why she bothered with this glossy, well-enough made by-numbers and utterly predictable romcom, since nothing in it stretches her as an actress or makes you really, really need to see it. Watching was painless enough – the production values are good and Reitman’s direction is efficient in glossy but anonymous Hollywood style - but it never really engaged my attention. The film simply passes by, filling the time - but fails to remain in your memory for long.

The characters played as adults by Portman and Kutcher first meet as teenagers at camp and continue to meet over the years, sticking by the mantra “People aren’t meant to be together for ever”. These close encounters of the recurring kind congeal when both are adults – Portman a junior doctor, Kutcher working on a ‘High School Musical’-style TV series – enjoying sex without commitment the way they want it. Until, that is, the inevitable happy ending which could only come as a surprise to someone who has never seen a Hollywood romcom.

Their characters are summed up with the line “We’re just sex friends, friends who have sex”, which they do although, since Portman is a star, she somewhat bizarrely keeps her bra on in bed. Which is a tad odd considering some of the grubby dialogue screenwriters Elizabeth Meriwether and Michael Samonek have written for Portman, most notably when she praises Kutcher by telling him, “You have a really nice penis”. Result – a routine romcom with smutty overtones.

Kutcher does his charming puppy turn again, Kline, as his father, acts rather well which, in the light of a role that has him sleeping with his son’s former girlfriend, is quite impressive; and the rest of the cast do what they are asked which is what one would expect of them. I’d be quite surprised if Reitman, who long ago directed Cannibal Girls and Ghost Busters, holds No Strings Attached high in his own estimation.

Alan Frank

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour by deluxe.
107 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 20 Feb 2011