Stuck with writer's block, Sam (Justin Long) concocts a fake identity to snag local street artist Birdie (Evan Rachel Wood). After his roommate suggests checking her Facebook profile, Sam begins to shape himself into the ideal man for her. After pretending to accidentally meet at a comedy club and they become ballroom dance partners. Sam begins to write a novel based on their relationship. Can he keep up the charade as it gets more and more difficult? Written by
Remember when indie rom-coms - films made on a shoestring budget - were quirky, odd and refreshingly different from their Hollywood brethren? Those days, it seems, are long past. Truthfully, you'd be hard-pressed to find anything beyond the conventional in A Case Of You, a slight, sweet romance that's passably entertaining but never fully engages on an emotional level.
In this day and age of social media stalking, struggling writer Sam (Justin Long) decides to study up on just about anything and everything his sun-kissed barista Birdie (Evan Rachel Wood) has liked on Facebook. He's unwilling to really show the world who he is, you see, so he busies himself with guitar lessons, cooking classes and books he's never heard of. But, when things start to get serious, Sam freaks out, realising that Birdie has no idea who he really is as a person.
Scripted by Long, his brother Christian and Keir O'Donnell, A Case Of You is earnest and well-intentioned - for the most part, it even manages to steer clear of making Sam's studying of Birdie's Facebook page as creepy as it could be. It even adds a couple of nice moments when Sam lets his guard down and tells Birdie more about himself, which does lend some genuine credibility to their relationship.
But it's all too predictable. As Sam blunders his way through classes, picking up approximately no new demonstrable skills and writing a brooding novel about his exploits (much creepier than Facebook- stalking), the film coasts along with hardly any narrative tension. It's tough also because Birdie, despite Wood's best efforts, comes across as your standard Manic Pixie Dream Girl: that stereotypically kooky sweetheart of a love interest who will melt and win even the hardest of hearts.
It's a shame because this is Long's best work yet as an actor. He keeps Sam grounded, real and annoying at just the right moments. When Sam's painstakingly constructed illusion of happiness shatters before him, Long folds a lot of heartbreak into the tears shining in his eyes. He shares a fun chemistry with Wood, who might not be able to break free of the script but does at least get to show off her pipes in one of the film's better scenes.
What's more telling is the fact that the most memorable bits of A Case Of You largely don't involve the two main characters. Instead, it's the cameos by a host of actors - no doubt pulled up from Long's own Facebook page - that provide the most laughs. Peter Dinklage, for one, is having the time of his life as Gerard, Birdie's oddball coffee-shop boss. The same goes for Sam Rockwell in the role of Sam's drug-addled guitar teacher.
Over 15 years ago, You've Got Mail re-invented the romantic comedy in the wake of technological advancements such as e-mail and modem dial- ups. It's quaint now, of course, but it sparkles with a wit and romance that's largely missing from A Case Of You. The latter film may be timely, folding Facebook and its myriad pros and cons into a modern love story. But it's far from timeless - a fact most unfortunately underscored by its failure to secure the rights to the classic Joni Mitchell song after which it's named.
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