Genre: Romance/Drama/Comedy Director: Nicole Kassell Cast: Kate Hudson, Gael Garcia Bernal, Rosemarie DeWitt, Kathy Bates, Whoopi Goldberg, Lucy Punch, Romany Malco, Steven Weber, Peter Dinklage, Treat Williams RunTime: 1 hr 47 mins Released By: Cathay-Keris Films Rating: PG13 (Sexual References) Official Website:
Opening Day: 15 September 2011
Synopsis: It’s not easy being a woman in New York’s cut throat advertising industry. But Marley (Kate Hudson) has worked her way up to become the youngest Account Director on Madison Avenue – all with a cheeky smile and her irreverent sense of humour. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks but most of all she doesn’t believe in getting attached – especially to members of the opposite sex. That is until she is thrown a massive curve ball. Don’t forget your tissues for this heartfelt romantic drama that will have you battling alongside Marley for love, family and ….life.
Once rom-com queen Kate Hudson returns to the big screen with not a comedy, but rather a weepie, playing a free-spirited young woman who discovers one day that she has not many more months to live. It’s the kind of material that you would expect from a Nicholas Sparks novel, or perhaps a Korean or Japanese movie- and true enough, without the right pedigree, this tearjerker which tries to put an upbeat spin on death ends up being just middling.
To be fair, Hudson exhibits her usual sunny brand of charisma as Marley, the sassy account director in the advertising industry who has just won her New Orleans agency a coveted contract for a condom company. She parties hard, has an active no-strings sex life, and remains gleefully single living alone in an apartment with her dog Walter. A few years back, the Marley as played by Hudson would probably meet a guy, fall in love, and discover the beauty of commitment- but no, here she meets a handsome doctor Julian (Gael Garcia Bernal) while finding out that she has colon cancer. How the times have not been kind to Hudson (the same of which could be said of her stalling Hollywood career).
Anyways, Marley also discovers that she has probably very little hope of recovery from a dreamlike sequence where she meets God in the form of a cheerfully beaming Whoopi Goldberg. We kid you not- somehow the filmmakers decided that they needed a touch of the Divine and Morgan Freeman was probably not available. There are two such Godly encounters in the entire movie, each equally hokey as the other, but thankfully the rest of first-time feature writer Gren Wells’ script is moderately better (and we do mean only moderately).
Eschewing the easy melodrama, Marley takes death in her stride, going about her remaining days determined to make the best out of them instead of lamenting about her circumstance. Besides her separated parents (Kathy Bates and Treat Williams), she also gets loving support from her band of happy-go-lucky friends (among them Lucy Punch and Romany Malco)- not to mention a love interest in the form of Dr. Julian. As far as Hollywood schmaltz goes, this is pure formula, so expect none of the people around Marley to take advantage of her, or decide that they have none of her condition. Inspiration isn’t the movie’s strong suite, so there are really little surprises along the way even as Marley grows progressively weaker.
And the film too suffers the same fate, its determination to be bittersweet especially trying when it gets to the inevitable melodrama by the third act. Director Nicole Kassell is far from her critically acclaimed big screen debut ‘The Woodsman’, and can’t quite find the right tone for the film to settle in. Instead, too much comedy at the start alienates us from the gravity of Marley’s situation, and too much melodrama at the end just rings hollow. The romance between Marley and Julian also never convinces- Hudson and Bernal sharing little winning chemistry with each other.
Yet despite these flaws, Kassell’s sophomore feature still has the glossy sheen of a typical Hollywood product, and undemanding audiences will likely find this pleasing enough. Still, a film with a subject matter like this needs to resonate emotionally in order to be worth its weight, and its decidedly carefree attitude works against the film by making it too lightweight for its audience to care. That’s a shame really, for Hudson is luminous as ever, her radiant presence- while sorely missed in recent years- wasted in mediocrity like this.
(Hudson is great to watch as ever, but even her radiant presence can’t save this movie that wavers between comedy and tragedy and can’t quite find the balance either way)