❉ Just another quirky indie rom-com? Iain MacLeod untangles ‘Entanglement’.
Director Jason James helms this indie rom-com that aims to raise itself above the norm by putting a quantum mechanical spin on its story. However even with its ambitions and a spikier than usual lead performance from Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch it fails to rise up to its ambitions successfully.
Middleditch plays Ben. Recovering from a suicide attempt after a failed marriage, he is one of those leading men you only find in indie movies that should have been put to rest after 2004’s Garden State, the Holy Grail of sad sack white men who are irresistible to cool girls indie movies. Looking to pinpoint the moment in his life where everything went wrong so he can right it, please don’t ask me how, he discovers that he nearly had an adopted sister Hanna, played by Jess Weixler. And coincidence would have it that she is the very same girl he met in the drugstore the day before. And further coincidentally had an instant attraction to him! Could all this coincidence be due to quantum mechanics, which is briefly and sketchily discussed throughout the film? Or just poor scriptwriting?
Indie movie clichés abound here. Hackneyed scenes and situations pile atop each other over the films brief running time; Ben visits a child psychiatrist because that’s wacky right? And the other child patients crack wise in that naturally, witty adult style. Running down the middle of the road to indie music after learning a life changing revelation? You can check that box off the cliché list too. Biggest of all though is the way the main female characters act. They all, including his next-door neighbour Tabby, fawn and pine after Ben simply because that is what the women in these types of movie do. There is no other characterisation for the actresses to play with or interpret, other than offer up sarcastic dialogue that is bizarrely self-critical of Ben and the film itself.
The film aims for visual profundity in a number of sequences, hoping to cover over the cracks in the paper-thin story; a swimming pool finds itself full of luminous jellyfish, planets float on a background mural while Hanna talks about quantum mechanics again and for some bizarre, pointless reason cartoon reindeer frolic in front of the characters. These flights of fancy fail to elevate the film on any level, be it visual or metaphorical.
Character-wise the film only succeeds due to Middleditch’s efforts. His dramatic muscles are stretched here but how much credit can be given to the director is arguable seeing how lacking it is in every other department. This is a film that seems to have next to no idea how human relationships work, particularly between males and females. The burgeoning brother/sister relationship here is immediately ignored in favour of a bizarrely sketched romantic one.
Entanglement ties itself up in a number of knots it cannot get out of successfully. One revelation towards the end is signposted before so obviously that you immediately discount it as a false flag as it is so out of place for a film like this. Sadly, it goes full pelt for this ill-advised turn, giving it a twist that is completely unnecessary. In a film of many flaws this is probably its most fatal, marking it out as a movie that does not know if it is a romantic comedy or a romantic drama. In the end it fails as both.
❉ ‘Entanglement’ stars Thomas Middleditch and Jess Weixler. Directed by Jason James. Released in theaters across the U.S and on VOD from 9 February 2018.
❉ Iain MacLeod was raised on the North coast of Scotland on a steady diet of 2000AD and Moviedrome. Now living in Glasgow as a struggling screenwriter he still buys too many comics and blu-rays. Has never seen a ghost but heard two talking in his bedroom when he was 4.