January 27, 2007

Catch & Release (1/27/07)

Lettergrade: C-

My feeling with this one is that it was a decent premise that was poorly executed. Jennifer Garner's finacee dies just before their wedding, and while dealing with the estate she discovers that he had over a million dollars in a secret bank account and was using some of the money to pay support to a woman in California, with whom he apparently has a young child! As Garner comes to terms with what has happened to her, she gets to know the "other woman" a little and falls in love with her deceased fiance..'s sleazy LA movie director pal (who never develops much of a discernable personality through the movie).

Although I was into it for a little while, the film eventually lost my respect and ultimately deteriorated into something of a mess. Part of the problem is the sheer number of sub-plots that are introduced, nearly forgotten, then resumed again much later in the picture. Sometimes such devices can really enrich a movie, but here I felt they rarely bore fruit and primarily slowed everything down, distracting us from the main story.

The director was Suzannah Grant, who had a long established career as a screenwriter before making her directing debut here. Although the film editor was the legendary Anne Coats (who received a lifetime achievement award at the BAFAs this year) it seems clear that Grant was unwilling to let certain storylines be trimmed from the film. In other words, it feels like most - if not all - of her script made it to the screen, which of course is not always a good thing. The proceedings are further hurt by the fact that certain characters go from being perfectly pleasant in one scene to psychotic in the next, and then back again.

Ultimately, however, it felt like it might have been written to be an edgy low-budget picture ala The Good Girl or You Can Count On Me (or like its most direct ancestor, The Big Chill), but that it was Hollywoodized once some big-name talent became involved and it became a medium budget studio picture.

Even early on, whenever the story ventured into particurally dark territory, somewhat upbeat indie rock jumped in on the soundtrack in an awkward attempt to lighten things up. My guess is that the first assembly was probably pretty grim and they were doing what they could to make the whole thing more tolerable. The casuality with that concept, however, is that a couple scenes that are about Garner breaking down in a very real, painful way contain a baffling light-hearted quality. It's a shame because the movie has some neat concepts and ideas going on which still make for interesting material, even when everything plays out poorly.