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Stuck in Love

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  • Directed by: Josh Boone
  • WIth: Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly and Nat Wolff
  • 97 Minutes

Growing up is always a tough deal… The whole idea of knowing ourselves and how to behave and respect the others who live among us is not an easy task. Our parents try really hard and give their best every single day to make us honorable persons but when love comes in the middle everything becomes even harder. Josh Boone, the director of “The Fault in Our Stars” (you can read the review for TFIOS by clicking here), is the responsible of this romantic comedy about love and growing-up… With Jennifer Connelly, Greg Kinnear, Lily Collins and Nat Wolff (Isaac from “The Fault in Our Stars”), “Stuck in Love” is like a melody about our daily life and our relationships and a sentimental story that will touch your heart for sure.

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The Borgens are a very special family composed by William, an acclaimed author incapable of writing since his ex-wife Erica left him, his daughter Samantha who is publishing her first novel and who is trying to avoid love at all costs and his son Rusty who is an aspiring fantasy writer and a Stephen King fan and who is ready to gain his first “life experiences”. Although he’s visited by his married neighbor and fuck buddy, William still suffers from being away of his ex-wife, so sometimes he decides to spy on her. Samantha, who is constantly denying love, is opposed to her dad’s behavior and is constantly trying to get a man for an occasional hook-up while Rusty is in love with a colleague from his school. When Samantha meets at last a decent “nice guy” named Lou who is determined to win her over, her life and her beliefs will change forever. The young woman who thought that love meant being stuck begins living a love story alongside with a guy whose qualities didn’t fit in her hook-up desires. William’s situation, by other hand, is definitely harder since he refuses to stop believing that his ex-wife Erica will return one day to his arms, which puts him in a delicate situation. Captivated by the words of his sister and his father about getting some “life experiences”, Rusty decides to take a huge step and to enter a party attended by his crush. After joining the party, Rusty finds out that the crush of his dreams was addicted to drugs and after watching her being pushed by her boyfriend, he decides to protect her by punching him and by giving her a place to rest. Soon, they become really close and intimate and Rusty life starts changing radically. Together, the Borgens will share their experiences and thoughts in a search for happiness.

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With “Stuck in Love”, Josh Boone proved me that is a great director when it comes to romances and heart-warming stories. He’s capable to represent in a great way the relationships and the family bonds that connect every experience of the Borgens. He’s a talented director when it comes to love stories and I was surprised with all the morality and love put into the story. “Stuck in Love” is a “good-feeling” movie that features a series of events that are able to teach you some life lessons about love and family. But just like in TFIOS, Josh Boone had in “Stuck in Love” the help of talented actors that were able to make the whole movie a great experience. Nat Wolf, Isaac from “The Fault in Our Stars” has again that great posture of a “nice guy” and his energy and presence makes everything more natural and funnier. Greg Kinnear, the lonely man in this story, was a surprise to me since his performance probably one of the best things about the movie. He is used to romances but the feelings and the emotion behind his character made his task look a lot difficult. The rise and fall of his happiness is almost contagious and works really well since it allows the story to be more natural and captivating. As for the other elder woman, Jennifer Connelly, I don’t have too much to say since she was always a good actress and her performance as a mother who is trying to win back her daughter’s respect and love was great. Kristen Bell and Logan Lerman were good, especially Logan Lerman who is having a really rough time during the movie and the way he conquers Samantha is just lovely to watch. At last but not the least, Lily Collins, the main actress from “The Mortal Instruments” saga, is a crucial member of the cast who provides a more relaxed and rebelled touch to the whole story. The way her beliefs change during the movie is an interesting display of how emotions and feelings change all the time in our daily life.

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Although the performances were great to watch and although I am a huge fan of romances and of movies about growing-up, “Stuck in Love” was not attractive as TFIOS was due to the simple fact that there was nothing in it that stood up and that was truly remarkable. Sure, the display of feelings is great and the chemistry between everyone made the movie look natural but I didn’t noticed any WOW factor. This love story about something more than just love was capable of entertaining me and was really interesting to watch. But even though I enjoyed it a lot and even though all the pleasant things I referred already, “Stuck in Love” was not amazing when compared with other titles about growing-up.

This exchange of experiences and thoughts between the members of the family and the bonds that unite them give a familiar tone to the story that I appreciated a lot. Sure there were predictable moments but when a story is told in such a lovely way, those things can be forgotten for a while. Great acting and lovely story is a successful recipe that worked so many times in cinema history so Josh Boone was simply good at mixing these ingredients. When the movie was over, I felt relief, happiness and thought about all those experiences for a while… Because “Stuck in Love” is more than just a love story and there are some lessons to take from it. Engaging, captivating and lovely, “Stuck in Love” is not an amazing movie but it was a surprise for the natural way it portrayed a regular family and if I were way I would consider sharing it with your loved ones. “Stuck in Love” is a life lesson itself, is about taking second chances even when everything seems lost and about the power of love and union.

★★★★

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Beautiful Creatures

beautiful creatures

  • Directed by: Richard LaGravenese
  • With: Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Viola Davis
  • 124 Minutes

So last night, after enduring for more than 2 hours Russell Crowe’s bad attitude in “Noah” I decided to watch something more “easy-to-watch”. After checking my watch list for movies I wanted to see, I noticed one in particular that was not supposed to be there after its mediocre reception by reviewers worldwide. It’s a young-adult romantic fantasy film that has a story really similar to “Twilight” and was also a box office disappointment… In my mind, this one was going to bad for sure but since I enjoy fantasy flicks and young-adult stories I decided to give it a shot. Directed by Richard LaGravenese and starring Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert alongside with Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis and Emma Thompson, “Beautiful Creatures” was my pick for the “’Noah’ hangover”. Everything seemed predictable and for the plot I could easily imagine myself watching “Twilight” again. But, again, out of nowhere, just like “Warm Bodies” did (in a better way, I confess), “Beautiful Creatures” was surprisingly enjoyable and I am considering travel into Kami Garcia’s books.

Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) is a teenage with a profound desire to go to college in order to leave the small town of Gatlin behind. The daily life in that small place was simply boring for Ethan and his relationship with his ex-girlfriend Emily made everything even worse since he was constantly dreaming about a mysterious girl. But when Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) arrives to Gatlin, Ethan starts talking to her and he suddenly notices that she is the girl of his dreams… After a misfortunate event during a class in which Emily and her friend were constantly mocking Lena’s family, she breaks the mirrors of the classroom and Ethan walks towards her to give her comfort. The beginning of their huge and beautiful friendship was quick and the feelings they had for each other also sprouted quickly. Soon they fell in love with each other but, unfortunately for them, this decision could separate them forever. Macon Ravenwood, Lena’s grandfather, was considered by the town’s residents as a devil-worshiper and after meeting her granddaughter’s boyfriend he panics out of nowhere. One day, Lena decides to reveal to Ethan that she is a caster (a witch) and that on her sixteenth birthday, she will be claimed by either the forces of light or of darkness, according to her spirit and personality. Being claimed by the forces of darkness would join her to her family members but could also mean the end of her relationship with Ethan. In order to remain in the light, Lena can’t continue being in love with Ethan but the feelings they have for each other are more than a mere obstacle. With that difficult obstacle in their way, Lena also had to deal with her evil mother, Sarafine, who casted an evil spell to force Lena to go for the dark side… With so many things at stake, Ethan and Lena need to gather their strengths and to work together in order to revert the spell and to remain forever in love…

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Yep, so much “Twilight” in there but, at the same time, a lot more tolerable and effective. “Beautiful Creatures” is another fantasy romance suitable for young adults that has its great moments and is entertaining during the entire length. I was really afraid with the similarities but, thankfully, there were funny moments and the whole romance deal was better than I expected. There were not cheesy and predictable moments such as the hot guy removing his shirt and the girl in the center of the story is not naïve at all (damn you Kristen Stewart for ruining my expectations on young actresses). No one is a nerd and no one is a jock…So, “Beautiful Creatures” follows a different line from most of young adult movies with stories that take place during the high-school years. But, the whole story of a mortal who meets a superior creature was already done and that experience was far from being good. With so many bad things at stake, Warner Bros. gave this adaptation a shot and after watching it I must confess that it was worth it. Most of the young actors and actresses in “Beautiful Creatures” are still exploring their talents so I didn’t expect anything great. For once, my expectations were correct and the performances had some flaws which made the movie less natural to me. Expressing feelings and emotions is a difficult task, particularly in a romance but, thankfully none of the members of the cast had an expressionless face (Yes Kristen I’m referring to you) and their performances were enjoyable. The chemistry between the power couple of the movie was good and the presence of great names like Viola Davis and Emma Thompson is one of the best characteristics of the movie and made it a bit more interesting to watch.

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The visual effects were practically non-existent, which is a bit odd since we are talking about a fantasy movie, but it’s a particularity that I actually enjoyed a lot. With less visual effects, the whole plot seemed more natural and realistic to me, which was a good strategy since the idea of a teenage romance contemplates most of the movie’s length. The story was not that great and yes, it was really predictable. I knew how the movie was going to end right in the beginning and that is something I often despise in most of the movies but, this time, just for the different pace and atmosphere, I will forgive that. The movie’s soft pace always with a bit of comedy in the middle made it a lot more tolerable than “Twilight” and some of the jokes and situations were really funny. The romance story is more funny than dramatic, which made me remember “Warm Bodies” several times. And with these funny details, the whole “I know how this is going to end” deal matters but it’s not that important at all. Some of the characters are odd but there’s also room for the pretty daddy’s girl (which in this case is played by the same actress from “Vampire Academy”) and for the good old daddy who wants to over protect his daughter, which makes “Beautiful Creatures” look a bit like a mix between odd and predictable things.

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Overall, the movie actually surprised me and I enjoyed it for the pace and for the way everything seemed interesting and odd even though the plot was predictable. There are some funny characters that I hope to meet again in the books and most of the time I felt entertained and interested in the whole movie. Although there are more interesting movies than this one that follow the fantasy romance line like “Warm Bodies”, “Beautiful Creatures” is a bit captivating and better than I expected. In the end, I thought that this was simply a “guilty pleasure” and that perhaps my interest in young adult romances allowed it to look funny. If you enjoy the genre, “Beautiful Creatures” is not going to disappoint you but when there are so many amazing movies that deserve to watched, I would leave this one for those days you just want to be entertained.

★★★

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