Movie Review: Stuck in Love (2012)

Love and morality play for writers of two generations 8_10

StuckThese are the kinds of movies I like—romance, with loss and love found (or lost), especially among the youthful who are new to the experience. Some guys like action and adventure, me, I’m all into the subtle language of relationships. And speaking of language, the principal characters are working or soon-to-be -working writers. [Stuck even has the bonus of Stephen King in the movie, playing himself via telephone voice.] Also, everyone connected with this movie is really competent at what they’re doing.

Where is the movie? I want to say East Coast, because of the Stephen King reference. After a couple of browser jumps: Wikipedia says it was filmed in North Carolina primarily the Wrightsville Beach area. Nice, upper crust, yet people from most economic strata can identify with the characters.

The setup: Bill Borgens (Greg Kinnear) is an accomplished writer who has seen better days, especially since he and his wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly) divorced a couple of years previous. He’s more or less pining for Erica’s return, to the point his kids Rusty (Nat Wolff) and Samantha (Lily Collins) think he’s bordering on delusional. Rusty and Samantha are also writers, Rusty still in high school and Samantha, in the opening scenes coming home from college for Thanksgiving. We follow the two kids as they work out who they want to be and who they want to be with, much of the drama develops from the fact that Rusty is a romantic and Samantha has become a ‘practical’ cynic.

An interesting plot device takes the action from one Thanksgiving to the subsequent one.

Just some comments on what separates this movie from conventional boy-meets-girl or man-languishes-for-ex-wife stories:

  • The younger actors are attractive—I swear Lily Collins (daughter of singer Phil Collins) looks so much like her mother in the movie, Jennifer Connelly, that I figured they must have cast Connelly’s real daughter for the role!—and bring a freshness to the parts. Even though we’ve seen such characters in a zillion teen romances. What adds to the effect is how they believably fit in to the literary culture of their time and place, which is rendered in solid complement to father Bill’s accomplishments.
  • Kinnear and Connelly are outstanding actors, they are just so good inhabiting these characters authentically. Small touches: [It’s easy to be swept away with Jennifer Connelly’s beauty (IMDb says she’s 44 now, wow!)]… but there’s a scene with Bill where he relates to Erica that he’s not been sex-free since she’s been gone. Erica is smalltalking along with him then ever so parenthetically and nervously asks, “You’ve been seeing someone.” Connelly makes that inquiry with quick yet intense anxiety in her eyes. It’s  perfect; that sort of thing doesn’t come from a script.

So definitely worth a look. I particularly enjoyed Bill’s observations on the craft of writing, as he mentions how he came into the passion with a line from his favorite author of short stories, Raymond Carver (a real author):

“I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.”

From scenes like this and a handful of others, and the closing scene with Bill’s son, Rusty, the viewer comes away with a profound appreciation of how fiction can move us, stir the heart. Those scenes, alone, at least for a writer, are worth the price of a ticket… or a Netflix delivery. It’s a movie that makes you want to see it again. In fact, I did wind up respooling it after the first viewing. Very appealing at many levels, with not a small amount of cosmic, subtle humor.

This post has been read 1436 times!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *