Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

Just what is Crazy, Stupid, Love? A romantic comedy? A family drama? Or a (shudder) well-dressed bromance? Well, like its unorthodox title, Crazy, Stupid, Love is an eccentric mish-mash of all those things, and all the better for being almost completely indefinable.

Steve Carell plays Cal Weaver, whose wife (Julianne Moore) has just demanded a divorce after sleeping with workmate David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon). Drowning his sorrows in a bar, Cal meets smooth operator Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who decides to help the middle-aged divorcee get his life back together.

Criss-crossing that storyline with that of Hannah (Emma Stone), who’s settling for a guy out of convenience, Crazy, Stupid, Love is a busy, polished comedy that manages to keep the laugh-out-loud zingers firing mostly into the closing credits.

Where it hiccups is in its final act. Whereas the makeover montage, Cal’s complex relationship with his wife, and Jacob’s burgeoning feelings for Hannah all feel sharp where other films might play them soft, Crazy, Stupid, Love lets itself down in the last 20 minutes when it struggles to wrap things up inside of two hours.

Not that the resultant film as a whole is by any means a disaster. The way Tangled writer Dan Fogelman builds up a complex ‘love network’ (rather than a love triangle) is both smart and full of truthful observations, while that sexy cast never looks anything less than a million bucks. Gosling and Stone in particular are blinding with their faultless comic timing and sizzling chemistry.

In the same class as other romantic comedy dramas The Kids Are All Right and As Good As It Gets, Crazy, Stupid, Love only slightly outstays its welcome in its final minutes. Before that, it’s a stylish, pin-sharp chuckler with bags of heart. 3/5

Savage Grace (2007)

Lips ablaze with crimson petulance, and cheekbones that could cut glass – Julianne Moore’s re-enactment of the life of murdered, married-for-money Barbara Baekeland fitfully smoulders. Pity the rest of this tepid time tumbleweeder never matches her magnetic, frosty fervour. Adapted from Natalie Robins’ dramatization of actual events, Savage Grace is dressed to the nines and desperate to party, all gorgeous cinematography and eye-catching cast – but ultimately it never makes it out the front door. “This society is sick!” seethes Moore… before giving her son a hand job. Family affairs, indeed. Oscillating with callous, impenetrable characters who never earn our empathy, Grace struggles like an impetuous child to seize attention with poorly-orchestrated shocks. A grubby subtext that appears to liken homosexuality with insanity is particularly distasteful. A poor man’s Far From Heaven. 1/5

Via Total Film