A Lot Like Love


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Current Rating 8.6/10 | 40 Votes

Produced by Armyan Bernstein, Kevin Messick

Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Amanda Peet, Kathryn Hahn, Kal Penn, Ali Larter, Taryn Manning, Gabriel Mann, Jeremy Sisto.


A pair of mismatched lovers whose apparent polar opposite natures is the source of their attraction, dorky Oliver (Ashton Kutcher) notices funky punk rocker Emily (Amanda Peet) breaking up with her musician boyfriend just before they both board a plane at Los Angeles bound for New York. Despite some angrily-shed tears, the spontaneous wild-child recovers swiftly enough to make the initially somewhat passive Oliver an instant member of the mile-high club, only to ignore him for the rest of the flight. While in New York, several synchronicities in their respective activities are enough to establish a sort of bantering repartee between them based largely on Emily’s finding Oliver lacking on a few fronts, mystifying him with the verdict ‘Strike Two!’ and inevitably ‘Strike Three!’ before he even knows what ‘Strike One’ was about. He appears to be hopelessly uncool, not her type, though she’s kind enough to say he’s “not unattractive”. By focussing on the image each projects they manage to ignore the chemistry that seems magnetically to be attracting them to the same parts of the city. Since neither of them can see the other fitting into their own lives, they go their separate ways: Oliver intent on getting ‘all his ducks in a line’ and Emily on following something altogether more creative, unpredictable and unplanned.


Over the next seven years, despite living in different cities and pursuing relationships with other people, the two reconnect infrequently like planets on intersecting orbits, usually as one or the other has just broken up with someone else. Their friendship is based on each being there at the crucial times when they are able to help the other over these rough patches. It takes seven years before each has grown enough to appreciate that what they have is what each has been looking for, by which time it may be too late.


Director Nigel Cole (Saving Grace, 2000, Calendar Girls, 2003), has a knack for warm, human comedies and the strength of this one is that we can all relate to the situations of missed opportunities, love and loss, friendship and embarrassment in which the characters find themselves.


The feel of the movie is hectically contemporary. The jerky movement through different times and cities is due mainly to the fact that when we see the characters’ lives they are at crisis points. It’s significant that photographs are so important to the story – it’s only through seeing these past moments captured on film the each of them can realise what they had, and have. The present seems to be moving too fast for each of them to see it at the time. Time also changes them. Oliver loosens up, Emily stabilises: at least enough for them to consider the same orbits.


There is a sweetly tangy chemistry between Kutcher and Peet, while the characters of Oliver’s deaf brother Graham (talented deaf actor Ty Giordano) and Emily’s friend Michelle (Kathryn Hahn) are believably natural while also being very funny. By and large this pleasant movie succeeds in skirting too many clichés, mainly through the freshness each cast member brings to the board. One or two manipulated scenes, especially the last one, detract slightly from the satisfaction derived from the whole, but not enough to spoil the movie.


© Avril Carruthers                                  17th April 2005


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