Directed and Written by Valerie Breiman
Produced by Martin J. Barab, Darris Hatch and Brad Wyman
Either I’m getting old, soft in the head or just downright developing a conscience. That’s the only thing that can explain my sitting down to actually watch a romantic comedy. And on top of that, liking it a whole lot more than I thought I would. But I’ll be upfront here; the leads are played by Famke Janssen and Jon Favreau. Famke Janssen you’ll know for two outstanding movie characters. She was one of James Bond’s more memorable villains; the beautiful Xenia Onatopp in “GoldenEye” who delighted in squeezing men to death between her thighs while having sex. And she played the telepathic/telekinetic mutant superhero Jean Gray in the “X-Men” movies. Jon Favreau has made quite the reputation for himself as a dependable and extremely talented actor/director. Everybody knows him from his roles in “Swingers” and “Made” and he directed the megahits “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2.” So it was more my curiosity in seeing just what the two of them were doing in a romantic comedy more than anything else that led me to check out LOVE & SEX.
Kate Welles (Famke Janssen) is a writer for the magazine ‘Monique’ and she’s suffering a creative crisis. She’s supposed to write an article about how to find and fall in love with the right man. A perky, happy article. The best she can come up with is 2500 words comparing romantic relationships to blow jobs. In her words: “It’s only the suckee that benefits. The sucker is left depressed.” Her editor doesn’t want to hear it and says if Kate can’t come up with something a tad more cheerfully readable by 5PM, she’s fired. Kate’s struggle to write the article triggers her memories of her past relationships that we’re allowed to share.
The relationship that really matters is the one she had with Adam Levy (Jon Favreau) an artist of decidedly bizarre talent. One of his paintings depicts a bleeding woman pulling a severed head out of her ass. And that’s one of his milder pieces. But Kate is attracted to him right off and they begin a truly touching and funny relationship that had me chuckling all throughout the movie and even laughing out loud several times. It’s love at first sight for the both of them but can it last? The movie is told through Kate’s eyes and she’s just as hard on herself as she is on Adam. They’re great together but both of them become too obsessed with wondering if they’ll still be madly in love with each other years from now. It struck me halfway through this movie that Adam and Kate are like a lot of people I know: they worry way too much about if they’re still going to be in love twenty-five years from now instead of enjoying being in love today.
I like Famke Janssen a lot in this movie. She’s not all glamorously gorgeous here. She looks like most women I see during the day walking down the street. Her character is remarkably open and casual about her past sexual experimentation and freely admits to Adam she’s had 13 lovers in the past. Adam only having had two partners naturally feels inadequate. And despite what Adam says she refuses to apologize or made to feel slutty because of her choices. She realizes she uses sex to make herself feel better because she’s so desperately afraid of being alone but that’s her choice and she stands by it. Jon Favreau’s Adam is a character equally as quirky and interesting as Janssen’s. I really liked the scene where he shows he’s a standup guy when Kate tells him she’s pregnant and his actions during a later tragedy are quietly moving.
But eventually the breakup comes. Adam and Kate go their separate ways for a time to try and find out if they’re really in love or not. The funniest part of this sequence comes from Kate’s dating action movie star Joey Santino (Josh Hopkins) who just happens to be one of Adam’s favorite actors. The sex is great with Joey but he’s got about as much brainpower as a head of cabbage. Kate tells him that he “just doesn’t get it.” Joey shrugs and goes one with life. He’s happy that he doesn’t get it. He’s content to live life for today. Kate worries about the fact that everybody today is going to die and nobody is going to remember them because everybody else is going to die.
It’s sequences like that in LOVE & SEX that reminded me a lot of Woody Allen’s work during the 1980’s. Famke Janssen’s character could easily be a female version of the neurotic persona Allen honed and perfected during that period. And both she and Jon Favreau are obviously having a fun time with the sharp dialog. It’s a nice little movie. Unpretentious and it doesn’t try to be the tearjerker of all time. And it’s nowhere near as predictable as other romantic comedies I’ve seen. It’s concerned more with telling a good story about some interesting characters instead being impressed with its own cuteness. LOVE & SEX is a movie I’m pleased to recommend as a more than satisfying Friday or Saturday night rental for you and your significant other. I think you’ll be as charmed by it as I was. It’s intelligent, funny and has its own unique heart. Enjoy.
Rated R: for language and sexual situations. The f-word is thrown around a lot as well as other sexual slang so be warned.