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
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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'.
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.
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.
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.
(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