Coming up with a new way to do a romance is challenging, but director Hill and writer Joss Whedon (Avengers) really make a game attempt with this little, indie gem. It isn’t perfect, but it is engaging and a good date movie, with just enough humor to keep it from ever descending into a syrupy or trite mess.
Zoe Kazan (What If) and Michael Stahl-David (Show Me a Hero) become the solid and engaging core of an otherwise iffy story-line. The weak aspect isn’t, as you may fear, because of the trope of the two of them being in one another’s heads, that’s actually handled very well. In fact, their entire relationship, how it grows, and their reactions are all quite wonderful. When you think of how that was filmed, it is pretty astounding.
But back to the “iffy” part. There are a number of the plot short-cuts and over-played characters that make too much of the film feel forced. The controlling husband played by Mark Feuerstein (Royal Pains), for example, or Jennifer Grey’s (Redbelt) lady-who-lunches. Perhaps with a bit more focus on the outside characters we might have believed them, but this is hyper-focused on our leads. And I can see why the filmmakers made the choice, but that doesn’t mean the folks at the periphery work. In addition, the plot is so telegraphed that they might as well have provided signs across the screen. That can be fine, but with these other gaps, it made it feel a little weaker than it might have for me, especially at the very end. None of these things make the film unwatchable, but I wanted it all to be as good as its best parts, and it just isn’t that evenly made.
As he did with Dr. Horrible, Whedon used this film as a test of the new, digital film age. I had very much wanted to support this film when it came out on VOD directly, but was never able to find it despite the online push and trailers. The systems have gotten better since then, and now it is available on more platforms. I’m not sure what kind of success it was or wasn’t, but it is a warm film filled with the magic of relationships. It may not be Joss’ best, but even his near-misses are better than most, and the cast works the heck out of the script; Kazan and Stahl-David are worth seeing through their challenges.