Love & Sex

Published on: March 23rd, 2004

LOVE AND SEX

4/10

US 2000

dir/scr. Valerie Breiman

cin. Adam Kane

stars Famke Janssen, Jon Favreau

82 minutes

An amiable low-budget romantic comedy, Love & Sex may satisfy undemanding couples out on a date – there’s not much here to detain general audiences. Think High Fidelity without the muso element, or Keeping The Faith without the religion – the only ‘gimmicks’ here are that the movie is slightly raunchier than the norm, and that events are told from a female perspective.

Nicole Holofcener trod the same territory with brighter results in her 1996 debut Walking And Talking, Catherine Keener and Liev Schreiber adding the class and sparkle that Janssen and Favreau, though competent and apealing – if smugly bourgeois – simply can’t provide. She’s a magazine writer, he’s an artist: they meet, click, date, go out for a year, aggravate each other, split up, see other people, get back together.

It’s all over quickly and (fairly) painlessly, with a decent number of witty lines along the way, though, as always with this type of stuff, the spectre of Woody Allen is hard to dispel – just like Allen in Annie Hall, Janssen finds her relationships destabilised by her obsession with death. It’s a nice touch, however, that this manifests itself in a devotion to Murnau’s silent Nosferatu. Another plus is Josh Hopkins’ turn as an action star whose self-infatuation is rivalled only by his hero worship of De Niro, a combination that proves unpalatable to an initially-intrigued Janssen.

But these positive aspects can’t prevent the whole project from feeling like a pseudo-indie calling card for Breiman, who, on this evidence, shows much more promise as a writer than as a director. Events unfold in Los Angeles, though so little use is made of the city (in comparison with, for example, Favreau’s best-known movie, Swingers) it would be more accurate to say the film is ‘shot’ rather than actually

‘set’ there.

Likewise, there’s nothing cinematic about the way Breiman brings her script to the screen. Her lack of originality is especially noticeable when it comes to the hackneyed choice of music cues: poppy grunge for sexy or fast-moving scenes, moody acoustic guitar for quieter or poignant passages, tinkly piano for the edited-highlights flashbacks, soaringly upbeat female vocal for the final clinch. It’s duff notes like these that finally prevent Love & Sex from being any less generic or unremarkable than that dreadul turn-off of a non-title.