Thursday, July 4, 2013

Sweet dream of the fractured family made whole again: Josh Boone's STUCK IN LOVE -- plus a short Q&A with the filmmaker

If you come, as maybe more than half of us now do, from a family broken by divorce or separation, you may leave the new film STUCK IN LOVE as moved as was TrustMovies. He sat there in his screening room seat waiting for the tears to subside and his face and composure to return to something like normal before he felt comfortable enough to stand up go out and face the world. Why hadn't he brought a pair of sunglasses with him?!

He didn't feel particularly manipulated, either, as most movies of this kind manage to do. Yes, certain information is withheld from us until a point at which it registers more strongly. But because that information is also withheld from another key character in the film, the withholding makes sense on both a dramatic and a realistic level. This is just one of the smart moves that first-time filmmaker Josh Boone, shown at right, makes with his movie. There are plenty more. Stuck in Love is quite the auspicious debut. And gheesh, what fun it is! Though I was crying at the finale, I had laughed myself silly on a number of occasions throughout the film, which is wonderfully entertaining, superbly cast and acted, and written extremely well -- it's that rare film about writers (a whole family of 'em) in which you believe that the folks you're watching might actually have put intelligent and entertaining thoughts to paper (or computer).

It must have been a pleasure for the ensemble of actors to tackle roles this rich and bring them to such full life. The story concerns a mom (Jennifer Connelly, above, right) who has left dad (Greg Kinnear, above, left) and is now living with a younger hunk.

The character played Mr. Kinnear (who remains plenty hunky himself), though still deeply in love with his ex-wife, is now canoodling with a younger married woman (Kristin Bell), his rather short trysts with whom interrupt her jogging sessions. (The movie is quite realistic about sex used as a stopgap for pain and/or a substitute for other things we're not getting -- as well as simply something that's necessary and enjoyable.)

On the younger front, the family's daughter (Lily Collins, above, left), still raging mad at mom, refuses to get close to any boy and instead makes certain her partners understand that this is only a "sex" thing. When a persistent young man (Logan Lerman, above, right), puts his quietly intelligent moves on her, she is typically angry but also flummoxed.

Sis' younger brother (Nat Wolff, above, left) who has wisely not taken sides in the family dispute and is just coming into his own sexuality, is attracted to the girlfriend (Liana Liberato, above, right) of the school druggie/bully (Patrick Schwarzenegger), shown below and about to punch.

How all this plays out is full of intelligence, energy, charm and wit. Dad, sis and bro -- writers all -- are at various levels of their career, and it is fun to see how each one handles this. The movie is a rom-com, all right, but it proves much deeper and more expansive on a number of levels -- one of which includes, yes, Stephen King -- than most of its ilk.

I don't expect that you'll have as strong an emotional reaction to the film as did I. We each come to a movie carrying our own bag-gage, which reacts to and with the film in its own way. But if you are at all interested in things like love & trust, writers & writing, and the uses of sex, I'll be surprised if you do not find Stuck in Love very much worth your time, not to mention your laughter and tears.

The movie -- from Millennium Entertainment and running 96 minutes, opens its exclusive NYC run tomorrow, Friday, July 5, at Landmark's Sunshine Cinema. Oddly enough, it seems to be getting a wide release in both the Kansas City and the Orlando/
Daytona Beach/Melbourne, Florida, areas. Los Angeles? Maybe later. Anyway, catch it if you can -- or wait for the DVD/Blu-ray.


TrustMovies met with filmmaker Josh Boone (shown below and further below) a week or so back but managed to leave his tape recorder next to his desktop at home. Much scribbling on note paper ensued as we spoke with this really "up," smart (but not smart-alecky) and charming young man.

Film school for Boone, he told us, meant growing up with a Super 8 and watching all the old movies he could manage to see, first on first VHS and then DVD. He's especially fond of The Criterion Collection (and who can blame him?).

Boone has always been attracted to writing and writers -- as his terrific use in the film of Stephen King and his work proves, along with the interesting way in which he has managed to endow each writer in his "movie family" with their own special subject and style.

Perhaps one of the biggest things in his young life occurred when his parents became born-again Christians during his adolescence, and he was forced to start hiding the books he was voraciously reading behind the covers ripped from "Christian" books then placed over Boone's preferred content.

All this was a strange but interesting part of the young man's life, and he says he would some day like to do a movie about religion. We can't wait.

TrustMovies remarked to Boone how amazing it seemed that he not only got this script filmed but that he himself, with no experience behind the camera, was allowed to direct it. He agreed, with a shrug and a chuckle. But the result more than bears out the trust placed in him by producer Judy Cairo (who earlier gave us the award-winning film Crazy Heart, Hysteria and the recent Erased).

When Boone's own parents later divorced (yes, this movie, as you might expect, comes from someplace personal), he explains that, like the brother in the film, he held no great anger toward either parent.

The filmmaker, now 34, tells us that while he may appear an overnight success, he has spent 10 years living in Los Angeles and "rolling that snowball up the hill," trying to get a film script produced.  "The key," he says, "is to write from your own personal experience." While we've heard that one before, we must admit results rarely come together this well.

As a small, independent film -- though cast just about perfectly with top professionals -- Stuck in Love will still have its work cut out for it, trying to reach the audience that, if it just can be tapped properly, surely exists for a movie this appealing and well-executed. We thank Mr Boone for his time and wish him -- and his film -- the very best.

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