First-time director Josh Boone practically comes out of nowhere to give us Stuck In Love, an intelligent dramedy built around the romantic lives of a divorced couple and their two children. Smart casting and sharp writing produce this engaging look at romantic relationships and first loves from a fresh perspective. It feels like an intensely personal creation from writer/director Boone, who used much of his own life as inspiration in making Stuck In Love. Headlined by Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connelly, Stuck In Love manages to avoid many of the pitfalls with modern romantic comedies, expanding its focus to the love lives of their two grown children and how they ultimately overcome problems together as a family.
Bill Borgens (Greg Kinnear) is a minor celebrity as a once-famous novelist. Bill is wallowing in misery two years after the break-up of his marriage and still pining for his ex-wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly), who moved on with a younger man. Rusty (Nat Wolff) and Samantha (Lily Collins) are their children, living with Bill. Bill has raised them to be writers, allowing them to skip work if they keep a journal of their own writings. Samantha shows incredible promise, as she gets her first book published at 19. Rusty is in high school, chasing the girl of his dreams by writing poetry. They are a highly literate family, prone to quoting Walt Whitman and reading Updike for leisure.
Samantha is highly skeptical of romance and love. Her cynical attitudes about life and relationships stem from blaming her mother for their parents’ divorce. Samantha hasn’t spoken to Erica in over a year and has sided with her father. She keeps meeting a charming guy that she refuses to date, Louis. It wouldn’t be much of a romance if she continued to rebuff his advances and eventually falls for his charms. Through a somewhat hackneyed turn of events, Rusty eventually gets a chance to develop a relationship with Kate, his dreamgirl. Nat Wolff’s completely carefree performance as Rusty, a smart high school boy chasing the bad girl, is full of nuance and the glue that holds the entire story together.
While their children are off exploring their first loves, Bill is hopelessly holding out hope that his ex-wife will return to him. He is regularly having meaningless sex with a neighbor, in a cute cameo by Kristin Bell. The neighbor urges him to go on dates and get out again. Erica seems happy with her new boyfriend, though her broken relationship with Samantha dominates her storyline. Some dramatic developments involving Rusty’s girlfriend lead to the family coming together for the first time in a long time, reminding everyone what is really important in their lives.
Stuck In Love is a polished romantic dramedy that stands far above the dreck of most romantic comedies. The compelling characters slowly evolve into the only logical outcomes for their stories. Writer/Director Josh Boone has crafted a wonderful story about romance that is both funny and affecting. Its raw emotional style fits these characters, all seeking love in some way. The excellent cast all contribute outstanding performances in a low-key manner.
Research indicates the movie was theatrically exhibited in a 2.35 Scope presentation. Millenium’s Blu-ray transfer presents the main feature in a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio. I don’t believe the cinematic composition by the film’s DP, Tim Orr, has been seriously compromised but it is an issue. Oblivious to the problem before watching the film, it was not noticeable during my first viewing of the disc.
Getting past the question of the proper aspect ratio, Stuck In Love has a crystal-clear 1080P presentation that sparkles with clarity and brilliance. The picture-perfect cinematography by Tim Orr is outstanding, one of the cleanest and naturalistic examples of video on the format. The dearth of noise and other artifacts is a marvel considering the movie was shot in only twenty days. A lack of depth is about the only trait one can list against the stellar contrast and inky black levels.
The transfer has received no untoward digital processing indicating serious filtering or sharpening. Its color palette is evenly balanced while retaining fully saturation of each primary color. Flesh-tones remain perfectly neutral and accurate to real life. Rarely does a movie exceeding 96 minutes stay this consistently pristine in terms of picture quality.
Stuck In Love is built on recent Pop hits for emotional resonance, from such Indie darlings as Bon Iver and Bright Eyes. It is all finely presented in a quiet but well-done 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. The dramedy is mostly driven by dialogue, not loud explosions of sound. The music is nicely spread out over the front and rear soundstage in clean fidelity. No one will use this mix as demo material but it is an unobtrusive, effective modern surround mix for a movie of this type.
Optional English SDH and Spanish subs are included which display in a white font.
Millennium Entertainment has included two quality special features for Stuck In Love, along with a number of trailers for other movies. Most of the trailers precede the main menu, which can be skipped. The combo pack also includes a DVD version of the film. Initial pressings will include a cardboard slipcover, replicating the regular cover art. This batch of special features go beyond the typical EPK material found so often on releases.
The Making of “Stuck In Love” (27:42 in 480i) – Dispensing with clips one has already seen from the film, this extensive and in-depth featurette interviews key members of the cast and crew. Director Josh Boone and producer Judy Cairo add the most background information on its production and genesis, though candid answers from Greg Kinnear and Lily Collins reveal added insight. The interviews begins with a focus on the story and then move to each actor’s individual experiences. A well-rounded documentary that fans will likely want to check out.
Director’s Commentary – Director Josh Boone and actor Nat Wolff have an easy, lighthearted conversation as the movie plays in this engaging commentary. The two are very friendly in this breezy discussion, chatting up inside scoops on the other actors. This is the type of commentary that shows how much fun it must have been to work on Stuck In Love.
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