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Book of Love (2004)

 -  Comedy | Drama  -  18 January 2004 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.4/10 from 1,332 users  
Reviews: 26 user | 5 critic

Living among fusty academics, an unusual young man gets between a high school history teacher and his wife.



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Title: Book of Love (2004)

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Credited cast:
Elaine Walker
Chet Becker
Melissa (as Joanna P. Adler)
Beth MacDonald ...
Yoga Instructor
Brett Tabor ...
Swimmer #1
C.J. Aker ...
Swimmer #2 (as CJ Aker)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Swim Team Supporter
Bartender / Waiter


A young couple, Elaine Walker and David Walker, meet a lonely 15-year-old named Chet Becker in an ice-cream shop, and they become friends. Chet has a crush on Elaine and they have a one-night stand. Elaine tells about her infidelity to David, and their life is affected by the affair. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


When good people do bad things. See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content and language | See all certifications »

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Official Sites:



Release Date:

18 January 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Nights in Phnom Penh  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Did You Know?


Elaine Walker: [singing for David] The book of love is long and boring, no one can lift the damn thing. It's full of charts and facts and figures and instructions for dancing. But I love it when you read to me, and you can read me anything. The book of love is long and boring, and written very long ago. It's full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes and things we're all too young to know. But I love it when you give me things, and you ought to give me wedding rings.
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User Reviews

Even as an obscure independent film, it's overrated. (spoilers)
12 August 2005 | by (Orlando, Florida) – See all my reviews

I was certainly surprised to see that so many IMDb reviews had given high ratings for this film. Personally, aside from the effectiveness of the feeling you get as you become involved with the characters (see below), I thought that the characters themselves were either annoying or completely stupid and that the movie itself, overall, lacked any novelty and really enough substance that, at least for me, would have me holding it in such high regard.

'Book of Love,' if nothing else certainly brings out the awkwardness of a couple distraught by one's extramarital affair (even if only brief). Do they just pretend nothing happened? Or, even if they try to deal with the situation, there is always that little reminder in the back of their heads that this person has slept with someone else...can they really be trusted anymore? 'Book of Love' at least does this much effectively, allowing us the vicarious uneasy feeling that at least the married couple seem to endure after the affairs is made known. As for everything else, however, the situation is neither knew and there is relatively little substance to deal with (which may explain why we stroll through scenes habitual nonsense like those of Simon Baker urinating or some moments with Gregory Smith).

This is the story of a young couple (Frances O'Connor and Simon Baker) who befriend a fifteen-year old kid from the neighborhood (Gregory Smith). The story is simple: the wife, not at all seductive in the way we may picture a voluptuous Mrs. Robinson type, has an affair with the boy. There is relatively little to suggest that there was any kind of rift between O'Conner and Baker's character from the beginning, so what reason she may have for submitting to the boy (other than oddly being aroused by his skinny body one afternoon in the ice cream shop), she has an affair with him. She later admits this to her husband and the rest of the movie is the three of these people trying to restore things to some kind of normalcy that existed before the mess happened.

But, there is too much unbelievability and not enough sound reason, for the affair to have happened in the first place. Was she just bored? Stupid? And really, what the hell did she think was going to happen when she told her husband? And, why was Gregory Smith's character all of a sudden aware that he'd done something wrong only when the wife tells him that she confessed to her husband? How idiotic.

And then, in that sort of 'Dreamers' or 'Y Tu Mama Tambien' way, to throw this story into a parallel with bits of history about the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia (Baker's character is a history teacher at an all-girls school).

Nonetheless, the rest of the film is these three characters existing in a very strange relationship, probably with Baker's being the most permanently removed, Gregory Smith being the one to pretend that nothing happened and that everything will probably be okay (or at least have the presence of such), while the wife seems to be mad at the husband for forcing the three of them together again and throwing it in her face.

There isn't a whole lot there. None of the characters are all that interesting and in the end, I came away from it with an almost indifference for the story and characters. What's the big deal? And yet, while some did criticize this film as being the worst that Sundance had to offer that year (I would agree), many did praise it. To my fellow IMDb reviewers: it is not sacrilegious to admit that an Indie film (even one from Sundance) is not great. Not even good. This one included.

6 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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