Um. Wow. I am really not sure how to approach this one. First of all, this movie was not what I expected. It looked from the previews like a love story, possibly happy and possibly bittersweet, but a fairly straightforward story about a boy who starts seeing the daughter of a policeman he had a negative encounter with. Okay, well, I guess that is what the movie’s about. But it’s also full of the boy’s family drama, so much so that the subplot almost overwhelms the main story, and the existential tagline about “live in the moments” is pretty much nonexistent from the text of the film.
Tyler (Twilight‘s Robert Pattinson) is a young college student slacker with a highly successful, absentee dad (Pierce Brosnan) against whom he’s rebelling and a dead brother whom he’s always writing letters to in his journal. He has a kid sister (Ruby Jerins) who’s insecure about her father’s love and always getting picked on at school for being different. The older brother’s suicide several years before has cast a pall over the whole family, and much of the family subplot is about them finding redemption finally for that tragedy. Enter Ally(Lost‘s Emilie de Ravin), whose mother was killed by a mugger before her eyes when she was a kid, and who, along with her policeman dad (Chris Cooper), is also still living under the long shadow of that tragedy. As Tyler and Ally’s relationship begins, it drives a wedge between her and her father, while Tyler’s family accepts her immediately…but when Ally learns about Tyler’s past with her own father it drives a wedge between them.
So, the thing about this movie is that it’s just sort of mediocre, at least from the point of view of someone in her mid-twenties. The family drama seemed…cliche at best, and possible even crossing into the realm of unrealistic. It was just hard to take seriously this guy from such a well-off family who has nothing better to do than feel sorry for himself because his brother died OH MY GOD SIX YEARS AGO and his dad has dealt with it by retreating even further into work. Like, I get that it’s tragic that his brother died, but really? At this point he just kind of came off as an over-privileged brat who knows he doesn’t actually have to face the cold realities of the world in a financial sense and so therefore has time for this sort of maundering. The girl’s situation was almost as bad, with an overprotective dad who can’t stand the guy his daughter brings home. Apparently she was 21 and had been in college for three years, and she had never once spent a night out the whole night or had too many drinks–yeah, how about no? I mean, if she was 19 or something, maybe, but that’s just not the way things work. So Tyler is rebelling against the very situation that allows him that rebellion instead of tossing him onto the street, while Ally has been stuck in the role of a child and yet magically breaks out of it in two seconds flat the second she starts seeing Tyler. Tyler’s protectiveness toward his kid sister against his father’s being too busy for her was the only compelling part of the direct family drama. The sister was really the highlight of the movie. Ruby was sweet and adorable and perfectly cast; she’s 2010’s Little Miss Sunshine, and deservedly so. I enjoyed every scene she was in.
The movie didn’t even make up for the annoying set-up by having great romance. There is very little chemistry between Pattinson and de Ravin, and the scriptwriters or film editors took any chance they had to curtail the development of an actual relationship between them on screen. We see them order their meal and then watch them leave the restaurant where she “had a really great time,” but we don’t get to see that great time. We hear Tyler’s roommate tell her that “the only other girl he looks at like he looks at you is much shorter and shares his DNA,” but we really don’t get to see him looking at her like that. We hear his roommate tell her that he misses her (dude is so emo and self-pitying he can’t even tell her himself), but we don’t ever see him missing her. It’s a lot of telling and not showing, which both makes the writer(s) look lazy and makes the love story aspect hopelessly generic. Perhaps that was the point. Perhaps it was meant to be an Anyboy and Anygirl story, so that we can all relate to it. The problem is that I got bored watching it, because I had no real idea why either one of them was interested in the other. And because I didn’t know why they were together, I didn’t feel anything when they were parted.
As far as production goes, I didn’t see anything really unique or interesting in the filming, and the acting was, well acting. Everyone showed up and said their lines. The best performances were from Pierce Brosnan, simply because of his natural charisma, and the sister, who was an unequivocal delight. I was unmoved by the end, because I found the main characters pretty self-absorbed and unrelatable, and I wish the story had taken a different direction than it did to bring about that “bittersweet” ending. If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean, and I, at least, was kind of offended by it.
So, yeah. Not a movie I am going to recommend highly. I think about the only people likely to get much enjoyment out of it are those who are passionate fans of one of the actors in it. For anyone else, pass.
Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.