That title sounds sexy. The film, formerly titled Love And Other Impossible Pursuits, isn’t. As always, my thoughts will dip their toes into the lake of spoilers but I won’t plunge all the way in.
My expectations for this film were not all that high but I had a sneaky suspicion that it would be better than expected. It wasn’t.
The film opens with a really sweet stills montage of Natalie and her character’s new born baby. Knowing that this moment will be happening for real in probably just a few weeks, it’s a really nice moment for Natalie fans.
Originally the film, when it was first shown at TIFF, was clocking in at around 2 hours, but they worked on editing it down and 20-25 minutes were cut out. I might be wrong (Garcy?) but it feels like most of that time must have come from the first half hour. The opening act is incredibly choppy with scenes that play okay in isolation but connect very loosely to the scene that follows. We jump backward and forward in time and many months race past in a really jarring manner.
Eventually the film “lands” and settles into a groove of sorts. Natalie and her hubby are mourning the loss of their baby. There’s an angry ex wife. There’s a kid from that first marriage who is either acting out like a dick or utterly oblivious and possibly a sociopath.
A lot has been said about Natalie playing a very unlikable character and, while she’s no angel, I didn’t really get that. She makes some seemingly rash decisions for the kid, but the results turn out positive. If anything, her character comes across as being able to help the kid be happier and feel more loved, particularly when compared to his real mother.
That said, Natalie’s character does have this outbursts, which suggest a slight anger issue. She’s also a bit of a hypocrite towards her father, but again, these are pretty minor things and if you go in expecting her to be this real bitch…well, for me she wasn’t.
The character who comes across best is the dad. He’s really nicely acted by Scott Cohen and there’s some nice nuance in the performance. Everyone else is fine. Natalie has her moments, but the whole film just feels really minor key.
It doesn’t help that I saw Rabbit Hole a few months back, which is also about a couple dealing with the loss of a child. But that film was so pitch perfect and raw nerve that TOW can only come across like a well meaning but blunt copy of that film.
It’s a little sweet, a little sad and ultimately a little forgettable.