A LOT LIKE LOVE
US, 2005, 107 minutes, Colour.
Ashton Kutcher, Amanda Peet.
Directed by Nigel Cole.
Unless you are under thirty, A Lot Like Love is going to make you feel a bit old – more than a bit old. Here is Ashton Kutcher again (Cheaper by the Dozen, Butterfly Effect, Guess Who) turning on the charm of little boy lost, the puppy and puppy love variety. Even if he irritates you no end (which could be more than likely), he still comes across as basically nice. Amanda Peet is the ‘like love’ interest until the end when (at long, long last) they realise they are made for each other. The film is made up of successive flashbacks, taking us to when they were about twenty and moving forward gradually by couple of year stages. This gives them the chance to have different clothes, hair styles, jobs as they remain friends until the penny drops that their ‘a lot like’ is actually love.
It is froth and fizz and does not aim to be anything else. It is romance with pratfalls – an easy pastime if you’re in the mood (and not feeling too self-conscious about how old it makes you feel).
1. The audience for this film? Age? Romantic, light, a perspective on love and relationships?
2. The title, the meaning of love, sexual relationship, intimacy, commitment, long-lasting love?
3. The California settings, the use of the city of Los Angeles, San Francisco? The east coast and New York? The 1990s? The 21st century? Younger audiences identifying with the characters? Work, parties, friendships? The musical score, the lyrics and their referring to the behaviour and attitudes of Oliver and Emily?
4. The flashback structure of the film: seven years, five years, three years, getting closer to the present? Watching the two grow and change?
5. Oliver, arriving at the airport, seeing Emily clashing with her boyfriend, staring at her, on the plane, the accident and his going to the toilet, Emily’s approach, his smile on emerging? Arriving at the airport, meeting his brother, his brother being deaf, the fiancee and her not being deaf, Emily and the introduction? Giving his name, her not giving her name, her saying that these were strikes against him? His age, lack of experience, his hopes for the years, his plan?
6. Emily, her appearance, going into the toilet, the sexual aggression? Her offhand attitude? Her going to the cemetery, the information on the grave about her mother?
7. Oliver and the stolen jacket, seeing Emily, approaching and talking, spending the day, the cemetery, taking the photos – and her keeping the roll of film? Her discovering the roll of film later, looking at it, what it meant to her? Her change of attitude about his striking out?
8. Emily, her relationship with Peter, in bed, his being with the laptop, breaking off the relationship, her going to the audition, the real feeling in it? Being glum? The phone call to Oliver, Oliver and his being at home, his mother, his sister being cantankerous, on the phone, the shouting? His going to see her, the joke with his brother pretending to be him? Their talking, the meal, the accident? Going to the party, their behaviour at the party, her drinking, the New Year’s kiss? Going home with him, his moving, her sleeping, the note and his going to San Francisco?
9. Oliver and his success, the bid for the New York money, the achievement? The company, his assistant, the staff? The loss of the money, the closing down of the company, selling it, the repercussions? The screenplay not giving any explanations?
10. Emily, her friends, the advice from her girlfriends? The encounter with Ben, the meal, the possibilities of a relationship, talking?
11. The failure of the company, the background to Oliver’s relationship with Bridget, his being a workaholic, her breaking off the engagement? His going to the house, Emily baby-sitting? Their going for a drive, talking, going out into the desert, parking? The photo, the nudity – and the later use of the photo in the exhibition? The national park, the trooper advising them to go? The separation?
12. Emily engaged to Ben, her hesitations? Her friend and seeing Oliver getting fitted for the suit? Her presumptions? Emily, engaged, Oliver serenading her, the applause? The build-up to the wedding?
13. Emily, the wedding, gatecrashing? Expecting the worst? Oliver, preparation for the wedding, the revelation that it was his sister’s wedding? The kiss at the car – and his sister shouting again? Happiness for Emily and Oliver?
14. A film for those in their twenties? Contemporary attitudes towards relationships, fragility, impermanence, the need for something that was a lot like love? Commitment? The final collage of Emily and Oliver?