|Index||4 reviews in total|
10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
The quintessential "sweet little indie," overflowing with authenticity, 5 October 2012
Author: larry-411 from United States
As I make the festival rounds every year I search for that elusive
"sweet little American indie." I don't come across them very often,
certainly not often enough, but when that moment happens there's a
little pitter-patter in my heart as I know I'm witnessing what could be
the launching pad for hot new talent -- writers, directors, actors --
who will go on to produce exciting, creative work in the years to come.
I found that here in "Writers."
First-time writer/director Josh Boone has crafted an exquisite film which successfully combines several themes that few are able to tackle successfully. Like David Gordon Green's "Snow Angels," my #1 Top Pick of 2007 and one of my favorite indies of the past decade, we see three couples struggling to cope with the primordial human connection -- the innocence and fear of first love, the seesaw of a mature relationship, and the pain of an estranged couple. Ironically (or perhaps not), "Writers" is privileged to have enlisted Green's longtime Director of Photography Tim Orr. But this is a much lighter picture than "Snow Angels," making it especially accessible to young people and families.
Greg Kinnear is William Borgens, the classic what-have-you-done-for-me-lately author who hasn't had a hit in ages but refuses to allow anyone to sense his self-pity. His wife Erica, played by Jennifer Connelly, is the quintessential partner cast aside at the expense of William's inattention and indiscretion. Their teenage children Samantha and Rusty, portrayed by Lily Collins and Nat Wolff, are discovering their own offbeat paths into the wacky world they've inherited. High school student Rusty, in particular, is a struggling writer himself who is beginning to experience the first frightening pangs of adolescent desire. Dad isn't the best role model, after all, but this is a father-son relationship that has promise if either or both can get their acts together. Samantha is in college and headstrong in the ways of a young woman determined to control her life and career at the expense of entering the dating scene and submitting to the wants of a man. Enter Lou (Logan Lerman), the earnest intellectual who'll stop at nothing to win her over.
From top to bottom -- Kinnear, Connelly, Collins, Wolff, Lerman -- "Writers" is perfectly cast. All inhabit their roles as if they created them. In fact, to some extent, that's true as the dialogue's authenticity is at least partly rooted in Boone's generosity in allowing the actors to improvise some of their material (a technique favored by the aforementioned David Gordon Green, as well). Wolff, in particular, takes advantage of this opportunity to add a good deal of the narrative's comic relief with his ad-libbed lines. Interestingly, he did the same in last year's Toronto hit "Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding," in which he played virtually the same character -- a naive youth, physically inexperienced, gently and innocently exploring his potential with the tender yet intimidating opposite sex. Lerman, 19 at the time of filming, played a 15-year-old in his other world premiere selection at this same festival, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower." In "Writers," he goes in the opposite direction as a 21-year-old who couldn't be more different from Perks' Charlie. In that film, his role is similar to Wolff's as the vulnerable virgin. Here, he's a self-assured, bright college student who is destined to charm Samantha off her feet. The fact that he can convincingly portray both these characters in two pictures at the same festival is testament to his talent and versatility. As his would-be suitor, young Lily Collins is an able foil to Lerman's advances and wins over the audience with her sharp wit.
The adults who anchor the film deserve far more credit than they're given. Jennifer Connelly, who won an Academy Award opposite Russell Crowe in 2001's "A Beautiful Mind," is a beautiful soul inside and out as the wounded spouse who still has a place in her heart for a potentially loving husband. He still holds a torch for her, as well, an intensely personal plot device that could easily lack credulity in the hands of lesser professionals. Oscar-nominated Kinnear proves once again why he is one of the industry's go-to guys. Few actors handle comedy and drama equally well, and he has no problem convincing the audience as a tormented has-been. He may be down on his luck but retains the earnestness that brought him fame and a loving family not that long ago. He's poised for a comeback and it's a role tailor-made for Kinnear.
The film is technically well-balanced between slick Hollywood production values and a relaxed indie look. Bright lighting belies the turmoil beneath the surface. The quaint beach house setting used in many of the scenes is awash with a color palette of earth tones and rustic furnishings, a counterculture milieu befitting this family of intellectuals. Mike Mogis and Nate Wolcott's score is combined with a soundtrack of indie music featuring Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, whose attraction to the material led him to write original music for the movie.
Tim Orr is truly a master cinematographer. His signature style is the ability to capture beauty in nature and everyday objects -- a dripping gutter here, a playground swing there -- and photography that is comforting, enveloping the actors in a warm glow that matches their affections. Nobody does it better. Boone was truly fortunate to have Orr on board.
"Writers" is overflowing with the authenticity of real life. You'll laugh, you'll cry -- often in the same scene -- and, most of all, you'll empathize with at least one of the characters. There isn't one of us who hasn't experienced the feelings and emotions exhibited by the members of this richly complex family. That's key to this ensemble that features many of our best and brightest young independent film actors. For what I expect a "sweet little American indie" to accomplish, "Writers" is simply perfection.
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
The actors all tackle their roles with authenticity and arresting performances., 12 April 2013
Author: GoneWithTheTwins from www.GoneWithTheTwins.com
It opens with a surprisingly unconventional method of defining
attraction with high schooler Katie (Liana Liberato) having a
nosebleed while sleeping at her desk, with Rusty Borgens (Nat Wolff)
admiring her from a few tables over. Later, it's made clear that she
suffers from a cocaine addiction and that he has a crush on the party
girl. Meanwhile, William Borgens (Greg Kinnear) refuses to give up on
his ex-wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly), even though she remarried two
years ago to a younger, fitter man (Rusty Joiner) Bill routinely
snoops around her house hoping to satisfyingly see the couple argue.
His stalking doesn't go unnoticed, however, and at his Thanksgiving
dinner, son Rusty and daughter Samantha (Lily Collins) confront him
about his unhealthy obsession and inability to move on with his life.
19-year-old Samantha is a damaged girl, finding success in writing, like her father, but unwilling to engage in a meaningful relationship, after witnessing the way her parents separated. She's promiscuous, cynical, and severe, refusing to waste time with flirtation or anything that resembles dating; she blames her mother and hasn't spoken to her since the divorce. Her initial conventions are nearly irredeemable. When fellow student Lou Murphy (Logan Lerman) insists on wooing Sam in the old-fashioned manner, with intelligence, wit, kindness, and romantic activities, she recoils vehemently from his advances, terrified to commit or to give anyone the opportunity to break her heart. He sees their occasionally heated dialogue as sparring; she views it as harassment. When she discovers that Lou's mother is slowly dying from a brain tumor, her standards change quite suddenly; partly out of pity and partially from succumbing to his charm, she reluctantly agrees to date the boy.
If "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" spoke to audiences because of its nonconformity to conventional raunchy depictions of teenage life and the utilization of overly intelligent outsiders seeking connection, "Stuck in Love" demonstrates a more realistic, harsher take on that same notion of portraying less common adolescent viewpoints. There's more recognition here for the use of drugs, meaningless sex, and the cold-heartedness of undeveloped minds battling condemnation and regret. Each of the characters start off with societal problems that eventually find love to be the catholicon. Unfortunately, despite the uniqueness of the behavioral botherations, the culmination of each storyline is painfully predictable. But the actors all tackle their roles with authenticity and arresting performances (even down to the minor bit part for Kristen Bell as adulterous neighbor Tricia Walcott), successfully walking the line between dramatic and irritating.
The film wishes to compare and contrast romance versus realism as it applies to relationships. Father and son share the idealistic, fantasy outlooks, while mother and daughter embrace the depressing attitudes of stark truths containing no airy hope; existences that clash as anti-comedy material. Despite the dynamic patterns of characters learning to possess the lighter, more idealistically human qualities necessary for a picturesque romance, "Stuck in Love" is most consistently a drama and one that goes on for too long. It's not excessive in details but rather spans a period of time (a little more than one year) that gives the audience time to tire of the cast, especially when their actions are alternately expectedly bitter and formulaically redemptive.
- The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)
An amiable diverting film about a family of writers and their experience of love over the course of a year., 14 May 2013
Author: SConIrish from Australia
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In its short life this film has undergone several name changes. For its
debut in Toronto it was entitled Writers, then it got changed to Stuck
in Love to now A Place for Me. Personally I prefer Stuck in Love.
Bookended by the thanksgiving holiday it's an amiable diverting film
about a family of writers and their experience of love over the course
of a year.
Poor William Borgen's (Kinnear) is having trouble writing after his wife (Connolly) left him for another man. He is having a "friends with benefits" relationship with his neighbour Tricia (Bell). To pour salt into the wound his daughter Samantha (Collins) has just had her latest novel published. But Samantha is unhappy to, unable to be emotionally intimate with men and permanently angry with her estranged mother. A class mate (Lerman) a fellow writer and part time musician attempts to get to know the real Sam. William's son Rusty (Wolff) a Stephen King devotee is in love with the pretty troubled Kate (Liberato) who decides to take his father's advice 'a writer is the sum of his experiences: go get some.' Over the course of a year the writer/director Josh Boone explores the travails of this family of writers.
Boone's film recalls a better film of its type Curtis Hanson's Wonder Boys which had an acerbic script from Steve Kloves. That told the tale of a writer struggling to deal with his wife leaving him amidst a bout of writers block. Amidst the comedy it had an edge which this film lacks. It feels a little underdone a draft shy of memorable.
The cast are all fine though, Kinnear underplays nicely, and he is an observer to the action going on around him. Kinnear is one of cinemas best reactors. Connolly and Collins even look remarkably like a mother and daughter, Collins (daughter of Phil) has the juicier role and Boone gives her some smart dialogue to highlight the intelligence behind the beauty. Wolff a newcomer is a promising newcomer as Rusty.
By the rather trite yet optimistic conclusion love has been rekindled, delivered heartbreak and even the death of a loved one is rather coarsely explored. As the family gather around the table overlooking the glorious ocean, about to gorge on a turkey the music rises and the melodrama of the last year has finally ended.
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Can "Writers" write from anywhere but the heart?, 10 September 2012
Author: Andrew Heard from Toronto, Canada
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Can writers write from anywhere but the heart? I have been a long time
believer in the idea that a writer that is worth the words they write
does so from a place of passion. A place where they care about the
material they are creating and the ideas they are talking about through
it. But is that actually true? Do you actually have to write with your
heart and soul or do you simply get better at it if you do it often
enough? Not long ago I watched a speech given by acclaimed TV writer
Matt Nix, creator of such TV shows as Burn Notice. In it he looked at
the idea of art and how he went about it. He spoke of some of the most
common advice that any writer gets when he or she starts out.
Primarily, that you should write what you know. Some of the most
fundamental things about ourselves that we know is how we feel, how we
think and how we act, even if we can't quite articulate all those
things in the moment itself. But is that the same as writing what you
know? Are writing what you know and writing from the heart the same
thing? Is it possible to do one or the other, or do we do both at the
same time? Watching the new film Writers from Josh Boone, I had to ask
myself that question. The film is based on the personal experience of
the writer/director himself and I think it really shows in the story
being told. Starring Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connelly as well as
younger actors like Lily Collins and Nat Wolff, it's the story of a
family of writers struggling to express themselves to each other after
the parents of the family get divorced and the mother has remarried.
Thankfully, each of them has writing as a way of coping with their
lives. Three of them have taken to writing to express themselves in
some way, perhaps not to each other or about each other directly, but
Each of them writes about the experience of their lives and the way in which it has shaped them and their ideas about the world. To quote from the film, "Writers are the sum of their experiences, go have some". When a person writes however, they often aren't talking about the situations themselves. Personal experiences can be used in and modified to fit for a story, but there is usually a deeper truth in the experiences that is at the core of the story being told. Sometimes the meaning is that there is no meaning, but by and large a combination of such experiences overall is about life or love or culture. Rarely is it the case that these ideas aren't somewhere in the script or book or film.
This film is very much about coming to terms with those experiences, which is what most writers do through their work. A lot of films focus on the ultra dramatic moments in life. The moments in which someone finds out their spouse has been cheating on them, or the moment two people meet and fall in love. "Writers" is very much about the moments in between such events. It's about that second when you realize "Oh wait, that's what I learned from that mistake" or "Now I realize that this is how I dealt with it and moved on". And aren't those the moments in which you truly understand what was going on with that experience? Those are the times when you feel comfortable enough to write down what it is that happened and how you feel about it now. That's the point where what you know and what you feel meet, and I think that's what "Writers" is in fact about.
Can writers write from anywhere but the heart? I think they can, but the heart always has to enter into it somewhere, and watching a film like "Writers" is one of the best ways to explore that about yourself.
You can check out my other reviews at: http://andrew-heard.blogspot.ca/
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