Stuck in Love

July 31, 2014

 

Stuck in Love coyly weaves together an ensemble piece of three different layers of romantic relations. It’s not exactly pretending to emulate Love Absolutely and its greater flurry at examining the different shapes that it expresses itself in the human condition. Notice I am reluctant to use the word “love”; it is too liberally applied here, like too much mayonnaise on bread, when every actor in the play is utterly confused. Nevertheless, there is a sweet and succinct finish to the story.

 

The first and perhaps main vehicle of the narrative lies in the daughter of a divorced successful writer and his yearning for the return of his ex-wife who has abandoned him for a young handsome hunk. Stuck in Love doesn’t tend to delve into the many different off-roads a more critically thoughtful film might explore. For instance, the fact that the writer has conditioned both of his children to become writers by quote encouraging them to carry journals at a young age. Some might find the eccentric encouragement something that is repulse-worthy; and not just from an outside-observer; but from one of the forced participants. And yet neither child resists the parental subordination. And in fact, what makes the story sweet is the happiness it exudes in typical movie magic. The daughter inevitably winds up having her novel published, something frankly unheard of for young authors, and she will point out she did not leverage her namesake whatsoever in getting it propagated. And the son has his science fiction short story adored by Stephen King.

 

Of course failure would be a distraction to the focus on love. And perhaps this is why the many other such diversions that would be tempting to explore would contribute nothing to the film’s title. And yet, a good reason ‘love’ is not being used here is because it frankly comes too damn easy to be made believable. Everybody it appears gets what they want. How is love or the brutality of the human condition ever this joyfully simple?

 

Yes, it is pleasant to experience the celebration of two souls finding passion with each other. Yes, that can be easily had and easily cherished. And true, love does not need to be mucky and painful and torturous. It can be light-hearted and cheery and still be real. Which is what I think is the particular success of Love Absolutely as a commercial film, with Stuck in Love following in that motif. However, what the human soul craves when it digests drama is a fundamental component of its reality, namely tension, lest we use the word drama once again. A tension that needs resolution and relief, and within the context of love, should the subject of this particular attribute of the human condition arise. Otherwise, the soul gets bored of its reflection. It learns nothing of itself. It craves indeed more knowledge of its order. And it can only find that when it is sparked, veritably captured by confronting it with a challenge; an illusory one, but one that is sufficient in authenticating itself, by elevating its eyes towards a more perfect being.

 

Stuck in Love sheepishly then challenges; it doesn’t penetrate the surface enough to make us think about ourselves in a profoundly new way. While it is not sufficiently a mindless diversion to take ourselves away from the real problems of our life, that anchor us down as distractions away from the sweetness of life, it is neither something that inspires to more than a happy ending.

 

Grade: C

 

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