By Candice Yang

Sadly, the easy chemistry of a charming supporting cast ultimately couldn’t elevate Galt Niederhoffer’s The Romantics beyond fluff. After seeing J. Crew’s promotional photo shoot with the cast, I was ready to fall in love with the film. It turned out to be an experience all too akin to online dating: Promising photos and profile, but it didn’t quite translate during the face-to-face.

Adapted from Niederhoffer’s novel of the same name, the film carries obvious handicaps that come with the absence of access to inner monologues and/or an omniscient narrator, and it was unable to compensate for those handicaps. The movie falls flat, with any attempt at complexity falling victim to a nonexistent chemistry between Katie Holmes and Josh Duhamel, and a script that rarely offered the sincere dialogue it seemed adamant to convey.

The events unfold over one (long) night, between the rehearsal dinner and wedding day of Lila Hayes (Anna Paquin) and Tom McDevon (Josh Duhamel) at the Hayes’ Maine estate. It begins with the arrival of the friends, the group dubbed “The Romantics” because of their intertwined dating history. Holmes plays Laura Rosen, maid of honor and college best friend of the bride, as well as the ex-girlfriend of the groom. Laura’s predictably hopeless for Tom, which remains transparent to her friends, despite her attempt to keep her feelings under the radar. As the night unfolds, the veneer of contentedness between all of the friends gradually wears off, uncovering each individual’s baser impulses, repressed in the name of young adulthood.

During a confrontational moment between Tom and Laura, it becomes apparent that his decision to forgo Laura for Lila boils down to choosing simple and secure over complicated and passionate. Too bad Duhamel didn’t get the memo that a winning smile and a one-note scowl do not an actor make. And while Holmes was able to find ways to express the nuances that come with repressing feelings in the name of loyalty, she just never seemed to connect with either the frosty Paquin or the bland Duhamel.

The gallery of friends at least made it possible to find a likable character or two. Malin Ackerman and Elijah Wood deftly provided some of the night’s funniest moments, particularly in the medley of rehearsal dinner toasts. Adam Brody (playing aspiring novelist Jake) had perfected one-liner delivery while on The OC, and it served him well here. And, Dianna Agron (playing Lila’s little sister, Minnow) and Paquin developed the best rapport of any among the cast.

At one point, Tom declares that the group’s goal is to inspire and to be inspired. If that was the goal for this movie, it never quite managed to achieve it.