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  Publicity Stills of
"Love Happens"
(Courtesy of Shaw)

Genre: Romance/Drama
Director: Brandon Camp
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Aaron Eckhart, Martin Sheen, Dan Fogler, John Carroll Lynch, Judy Greer, Joe Anderson, Sasha Alexander, Clyde Kusatsu, Frances Conroy
RunTime: 1 hr 49 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: PG (Some Sexual References)
Official Website: http://www.lovehappensmovie.com/

Opening Day:
29 October 2009


A romantic drama about a widower (Eckhart) whose book about coping with loss turns him into a best-selling self-help guru. On a business trip to Seattle, he falls for a woman (Aniston) who attends one of his seminars, only to learn that he hasn’t yet truly confronted his wife’s passing.

Movie Review:

Were chemistry alone enough to make a movie work, "Love Happens" would have happened beautifully. It is a movie that has as its best assets the combined star power of Aaron Eckhart and Jennifer Aniston, two wonderfully gifted actors who also share that crucial ingredient in any romantic comedy- chemistry. Indeed, the scenes they share together sparkle with verve, and you’d hope that there were more of those in “Love Happens”.

But strangely, first-time director Brandon Camp (who also co-wrote the movie with Mike Thompson) seems less concerned with their characters’ romance than about Eckhart’s character’s grief. Yes, "Love Happens" was supposed to be a movie about how Eckhart’s self-help author Burke finds an unexpected love interest in the form of Aniston’s florist Eloise. That’s actually less than half the case- if the time Brandon Camp spends telling their blossoming romance in this movie is anything to go by.

More aptly titled "Life Happens", Brandon Camp’s film happens to be centred on Burke’s journey out of grief, brought on three years ago by the accidental death of his wife. To overcome his anguish, Burke wrote a book titled "A-OK: A Path out of Grief" which his friend and manager Lane (Dan Fogler) turns into a bestseller. That popularity is the reason he returns to Seattle, as he now turns to running seminars to help others overcome their own grief over the death of their loved ones.

As you may have guessed, Burke isn’t quite over it yet- and it doesn’t help that his father-in-law (Martin Sheen) turns up at one of his sessions and chides him for being a hypocrite. It is this process of grieving that quite surprisingly Camp positions as the centrepiece of "Love Happens", with the romance between Eckhart and Aniston more like an after note. Almost half of the movie is spent at these sessions that Eckhart conducts, with him dishing out New Age advice like 'Happiness is a state of mind'.

There is no doubt that grieving is a painful process, and one that often doesn’t come with a definite time frame, but "Love Happens" reminds you of these two truths in such a self-important manner that it borders on melodrama. Director Brandon Camp is also not one of subtlety or restraint, indulging too excessively on long extended takes of his grieving characters slowly breaking down from their pain and guilt.

This heavy-handed approach doesn’t sit well with the lighter, fluffier and also arguably more enjoyable parts of the movie- mostly those where Eckhart and Aniston appear together. The result is a wholly uneven tone, as the film struggles with a romance built on the genre trappings of most Hollywood rom-coms and a drama bordering on the histrionic tendencies of many Hollywood weepies. But most of all, by way of romance or drama, "Love Happens" is trite and predictable almost to a fault and too conventional for its own good by any standards.

It would have made better sense if director Brandon Camp had settled for a straightforward enjoyable rom-com rather than this mish-mash of a romantic drama. At least then we’d probably be guaranteed of more scenes of Eckhart and Aniston together. They are the best thing that "Love Happens" has going for it, but also ironically its most underused elements- perhaps that is why unlike what its title may say, you’re not likely to find much love happening for this movie.

Movie Rating:

(Eckhart and Aniston give winning performances and share great chemistry, but they are let down by a movie that is too trite and predictable)

Review by Gabriel Chong


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. No Reservations (2007)

. The Break Up (2006)

. Friends with Money (2006)


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