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Stuck in Love (AF)


Stars: Kristen Bell, Jennifer Connelly, Lily Collins, Logan Lerman, Greg Kinnear, Liana Liberato, Nat Wolff, Glen Powell, Spencer Breslin, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Stephen King

Director: Josh Boone

First-time writer-director Josh Boone plays it safe with a romantic comedy-drama whose warm-hearted outcome is entirely expected.

That said, his saga of an emotionally split family whose members finally bond again is impeccably acted. And while the traumas that drive their various reactions may be familiar enough, a strong screenplay and laid-back but potent direction combine to make Stuck in Love an unexpected pleasure for all but the devoutly and deliberately cynical.

Greg Kinnear is excellent as an acclaimed author who has been unable to write anything since his now ex-wife Jennifer Connelly left him for another man, leaving him to raise their teenage son Nat Wolff and their troubled daughter Lily Collins who enjoys casual sex while following in her father’s footsteps by publishing her first novel. Which brings her into contact with kindly Logan Lerman, who determines to win her over despite herself. Meanwhile Wolff goes his way by falling for troubled Liana Liberato and is then impelled to start writing too...

Boone resolves his varied plotlines with conviction, avoiding underlining narrative clichés by eliciting strong and convincing performances from his cast. Kinnear’s trauma over losing Connelly is convincingly created and potentiated by Kinnear’s skilful acting which even manages to make his Peeping Tom-style visits to spy on Connelly at her home palatable. And, again to Boone’s credit, Collins pleasure in passing sex and drugs makes sense within the context of her section of a multi-stranded storyline that Boone brings the drama to a satisfying close at a Thanksgiving dinner.

Genuine charm permeates the saga. Whimsy is skillfully avoided, performances – including Kristen Bell who enjoys occasional sex with neighbour Kinnear – match and then rise above the demands of the material.

Old fashioned, perhaps, despite plentiful bad language, but polished and enjoyable with perhaps an occasional lump in the throat for those who would welcome such a reaction.

Alan Frank

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Koch Media. Colour.
96 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 09 Jun 2013