“Love isn’t always a lightning bolt, sometimes its a choice.”
Written and Directed by Alex Keshishian, Love and Other Disasters is a romantic dramedy in the tradition of Bridget Jones’ Diary, Notting Hill and Love Actually. The film is set in London, and focuses on Emily Jackson (Brittany Murphy), whom her friends affectionetly call “Jacks”, who is an intern at Vogue and who attempts to help her circle of friends find true love, often with humerous results. Love is an intelligent, fresh and witty comedy that will captivate you from its original opening frames, and clever breaks from reality.
Emily Jackson works in the London offices of Vogue as an intern who spends her spare time devoted to helping her close circle of friends find true love. She lives with her best friend, Peter (Matthew Rhys), a struggling screenwriter who happens to be gay and hasn’t ever managed to be in a relationship. When he has a chance encounter in a hotel lobby with David Williams (Will Keen), and falls head over heels for him, Emily rallies the troops to help Peter get together with him. Soon, news of Peter’s crush is everywhere, much to Peter’s dismay and the group of friends attempts to hook Peter up with David at an auction. When eccentric Talullah (Catherine Tate) makes a scene forcing Emily and Peter to help her home, Peter is crushed not to get the chance to meet David. Meanwhile, at her magazine job, Emily meets Paolo (Santiago Cabrera), who she assumes is gay and attempts to hook up with Peter to help him get over his missed opportunity, not realizing Paolo is actually straight and has a crush on her.
Filled with fresh, smart and original moments in the script, Love and Other Disasters is as entertaining as an ensemble romantic dramedy gets. The film opens wonderfully with the text of a screenplay appearing on screen, almost literally saying to us “If life were a movie…”, as we meet Emily and are thrown into this circle of friends, and almost immeditately feel as if we belong and as if we’ve always been there following these characters’ lives. It is refreshing to see a film, and script with the confidence to take this approach to filmmaking, too often a film like this is dreadfully slow in the opening 1/3 of the movie, taking way too much time to set up the characters and to justify why we should be watching them. Love thrives on the fact that it doesn’t tell us everything about these characters right away, and what we do learn is either done subtly with props or emotions or done expertly within the dialogue as the film progresses. These people feel like real people and more than that, they feel like a real group of friends with a rich history.
Like all great ensembles, the film focuses more on one person, in this case Emily, but also deals greatly with the other characters as well, and where the movie feels connected is within the connection the group has to Emily and the universal theme of relationships in the movie. Talullah, for example, is a total mess. She is obsessing over both a married man she is sleeping with and another man who makes strange calls to her home. She doesn’t feel anything as its happening, but once they end she feels abandoned and escapes into drugs and alcohol. Peter is lost and trying to find both love and his own identity in the world. He puts love, sex and relationships on this pedestal and ends up learning some cold truths. Emily herself hides her own insecurites by trying to help everyone else. She is sleeping with her ex, James (Elliot Cowan), but claims she has no feelings for him. Peter points out to her that she can’t find someone if she’s spending all her time with her ex-boyfriend, and its true. She just doesn’t want to admit it, and is scared to put herself out there again, she can’t allow herself the possibility of getting hurt. These are all very realistic and identifiable problems that we can all relate to, and its what makes the characters and film so compelling to watch.
The film takes some brilliant twists along the way, building to a wonderful ending and has a delightful charm about it. The natural chemistry between all the cast is amazing. The film ultimately becomes a statement about love, how we all define it and how we all need to be open to the possibility of finding it, even if its not in the form or way we were expecting. We just need to have the courage to look for it and to go out on a limb to try and obtain it. It’s a delightful surprise message to a delightfully surprising film. A wonderful script and amazing story, Love and Other Disasters is a highly recommended film to any fan of smart, humerous dramedies with a great ensemble cast.