Sunday, September 16, 2007

Catch and Release

2007, US, directed by Susannah Grant

Rating: **.5


Or Several Suitors and a Funeral. Susannah Grant's first film (as director, after several screenwriting successes) opens on an unexpected note for a romantic comedy, with Gray (Jennifer Garner) in tears as she mourns her fiancé, killed on the eve of the wedding, the preparations for which were already well underway. However, Grant gives her main character an easy out from her grieving, undermining the fiancé's saintliness and allowing Garner to quickly return to the single life in ways that strain the bounds of credibility. There's a scene where the fiancé's mother seeks the return of the engagement ring, a family heirloom, that's supposed to illustrate a callous nature, but in truth the mother's reaction, suffused with grief for her dead son, rings far more true than Gray's.

Grant is uncertain as a director, unable to map out her character's fairly simple evolutionary arc in satisfying ways, moving too quickly to the post-grief stages and then idling to regain credibility; she's also particularly prone to the musical montage. The film does benefit from several decent supporting turns, particularly Juliette Lewis, whose character finds herself in especially awkward circumstances, as well as the great Irish stage actress Fiona Shaw paying some bills as the dead fiancé's mother, while Clerks director Kevin Smith is amusing as a garrulous pal.

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