Movie Review by Susan Hodgetts
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear, Radha Mitchell, Billy Burke, Selma Blair
Director: Robert Benton
Ok I have to be honest here. I hated this film. It embodied everything bad about Hollywood films of today, contrived, sugary and utterly ungrounded in realism (and it’s not even a sci-fi).
Morgan Freeman plays Harry, a local professor, regular coffee drinker and sympathetic listener to the problems of the staff of a Portland, Oregon coffee shop. Owner Bradley (Greg Kinnear) is lovable but always chooses the wrong women, from his first wife Kathryn (Selma Blair) to second wife, real estate agent Diana (Radha Mitchell), who can’t seem to put an end to her affair with a married man David (Billy Burke). Then there’s barrister Oscar, who fights to hire Chloe (Alexa Davalos) to be his partner at work, and in life. And lastly there is Harry himself and his wife (Jane Alexander), both of whom are struggling with a loss of their own. Finally, together four couples emerge to happiness, only for tragedy to strike.
Adapted from a novel by Charles Baxter, and, shockingly, directed by Robert Benton, who won an Oscar for KRAMER VS KRAMER, I can see what this film was meant to be but it’s hard to say how it ended up like this. The result is a complete jumble with rose-tinted focus and plot direction. It really does feel like some well-intentioned but half arsed mess.
It’s a sweet idea for a whole friendship group of totally different ages to be brought together by a coffee shop, but the premise is about as likely as a bona fide healthy Starbucks muffin. When did you last make your entire friendship group at your local Caffe Nero? And why do the young couple (Chloe and Oscar) not seem to have any friends their own age? The relationship between Diana and David is the worst culprit for being utterly implausible. Since when did you see an adulterous relationship based solely on sex, a glass of wine and a fear of commitment suddenly and without explanation turn out triumphant? Especially when you’ve slapped your female lover round the face, and there’s zero emotional connection in the first place?
This did have heart tugging moments in it but the only positive light to shine out of this debacle are the performances from two newcomers, Alexa Davalos who is utterly charming as Chloe, and Toby Hemingway as Oscar, both fresh new talents.
But this limp attempt at romantic drama is contrived, badly plotted and a waste of talent. Hollywood must keep churning out these sentimental old turkeys because they think that people are interested. I urge you not to be dazzled by the star wattage and boycott….