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Non-Review Review: On the Rocks

On the Rocks is a disarmingly charming film.

Sofia Coppola’s latest is built around the relationship between Laura and her father Felix. Laura is happily married with two young girls, but has begun to suspect that her marriage is dysfunctional. There are small clues. Her husband Dean seems less interested in physical intimacy, and has been spending more time at the office with his co-worker Fiona. As her suspicions mount, Laura reaches out to her father Felix, who has spent his life as a debonair playboy with a somewhat cynical perspective of the masculine psyche.

Daddy daughter day.

On the Rocks is an earnest dramedy, following the dynamic between Laura and Felix as they launch an investigation into her husband’s potential affair. It’s elevated by two superb central performances, a clever script, and direction that allows its characters and its actors room to work. There’s a surprising amount of honest and introspection in On the Rocks, but also a surprising earnestness. On the Rocks is a surprisingly empathic film, never judging or condemning its characters as easily as it might.

The results are engaging and heartening. In some ways, particularly given the central dynamic of an older man played by Bill Murray and a younger woman managing her own life crisis, it’s hard not to see On the Rocks as a companion piece to Coppola’s breakout film Lost in Translation. However, there’s a lot more maturity and reflection at play here, a kindness and gentleness that feels earned through the two decades between then and now.

“Enjoying a nice Mar-team-ee.”

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Non-Review Review: Celeste & Jesse Forever

While it’s not quite as novel as the core idea might suggest, Celeste & Jesse Forever has a fascinating central concept. Most romances leave off after the initial courtship – the “and they lived happily ever after” all but printed at the bottom of the end credits. Celeste & Jesse Forever offers a somewhat skewered take on that. We begin at the end of a marriage, and follow the two central characters as they try to deal with living apart from one another. The movie isn’t as subversive as it could be, working hard to integrate conventional romantic formulas into this new framework, but it is something a bit different – and the concept carries it quite far. A winning central performance from Rashida Jones and a charming sense of humour help keep the movie interesting, even if it never quite commits fully.

Celeste & Jesse Forever is well worth a look, if only to demonstrate that there is room to tinker with the conventional formula for romantic comedies.

The long kiss goodnight...

The long kiss goodnight…

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Non-Review Review: I Love You, Man

There’s a lot of potantial here. Guys and their friends typically relate differently than girls and their friends. And nothing interferes with a wedding quite like a guy and his best friend – even if both the marriage and the relationship with the best friend are a great idea. The problem is that I Love You, Man doesn’t go anywhere with its interesting notion and it insists upon tackling the question of how the sexes relate in the most immature way possible. This is the bromantic equivalent of Sleepless in Seattle rather than Chasing Amy or (500) Days of Summer.

A scooter made for two...

A scooter made for two...

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