Review: ‘Save the Date’
The trailer for Save the Date, an indie rom-com depicting the tension between two young women over one sister’s wedding while exploring the complexity of romantic relationships, boasts a sweet chemistry between the lead and her new boyfriend and a decent soundtrack that screams “indie.” Unfortunately, that’s about all the flick has going for it. Except the decent part of the soundtrack is really only one song and the chemistry between Lizzy Caplan and Mark Webber isn’t enough to sustain an otherwise anemic script.
Sarah (Lizzy Caplan) is a commitment-phobe, which annoys judgmental sister Beth (Allison Brie) who is preoccupied with planning her wedding to Andrew (Martin Starr). Sarah is conveniently dating Andrew’s band mate Kevin (Geoffrey Arend). Newly moved in together, we can tell she is not happy with the situation but we don’t have any idea why. Poor Kevin can’t pick up on any clues and Sarah leaves him mortified when she runs out on his heartfelt public proposal after a gig.
This opens the door for friendly neighborhood stalker Jonathan (Mark Webber, who looks like a younger, cuter Chuck Norris) who frequents the bookstore where Sarah works. He doesn’t mind being her rebound guy and they are soon ensconced in a hot and heavy fling, much to the chagrin of disapproving Beth. She knows it won’t end well for poor Jonathan. We know it too. Hell, it seems like HE even knows it, yet he is still surprised when she turns into a cold fish and demands space. What he doesn’t know is that she has become pregnant. The open ending is sure to generate some controversy with audiences (think Sopranos) as they will either be impressed by the film’s bravery or be annoyed with the lack of closure.
The film touts itself as a rom-com, but is really more of a rom-dram as there is nothing overtly funny (or even really romantic) about the tale. The crux of the plot revolves around relationships – how the various couples relate to each other as well as how the sisters interact. The problem is that none of the characters save Jonathan are very likeable. It’s alright for characters to be neurotic, but less entertaining when they ALL are (again with the exception of poor Jonathan who is left to flounder around like Mr. Nice Guy in a sea of dysfunctionality.) We don’t really understand why they are they way they are, and there isn’t much resolution to their self-imposed drama. The imminently watchable Lizzy Caplan is required to do little besides look wistful and angsty thanks to a plot that is largely devoid of backstory. We don’t know why she fears commitment, thus she comes off as a borderline bitch as she callously discards everyone who cares about her. Well-meaning Alison is equally disagreeable, both as a sister and a fiancée. Geoffrey Arend seems miscast as Kevin and doesn’t embody much chemistry with Caplan, making it impossible for us to root for his recovery from his romantic trauma.
The actors themselves are good, but they just aren’t given much to work with. Much of the film’s shortcomings lie with director Michael Mohan since he also co-wrote the piece (along with Jeffrey Brown and Egan Reich .) There is nothing new or refreshing about the material and the action plods along without much purpose. The highlight of the film is the one scene Arend shares with Webber in which they meet in the midst of an art gallery showcasing Sarah’s autobiographical illustrated moments and each realizes they are face to face with their competition. This is one of the flick’s much welcomed lighthearted moments, but the bulk of the action gets bogged down with an overly serious tone and lack of originality and wit.
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