I saw the trailer for this quirky comedy/drama several months ago and was immediately excited. Great cast (Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Chris Messina), great conceit (struggling writer imagines himself a girlfriend who comes to life), and it looked like it was beautifully shot. And, on all counts, I was not disappointed when I saw the full film.
The idea isn’t a new one, but is given a subtle twist here. Dano plays a teen writing prodigy who, now in his mid-twenties, has been struggling to write a second book for ten years. Struggling to write anything at all (and anyone who has ever tried writing anything creative can relate to that), he has a dream about a cute and quirky girl, and turns that dream into writing. He soon starts to worry that he is falling for his main character, and that worry manifests itself further when she appears – in the flesh – in his kitchen.
The story plays out in a slightly unexpected way – I mean there is no predictable way for a romance between an imaginary (or is she?) girl and a very real boy to progress. And this film takes it in a novel direction, getting audiences to question the difference between ideal love and real love.
The aforementioned cast is across the board excellent. Kazan (who also wrote the film) and Dano have a natural chemistry due to their real life romance. Dano impressed in Little Miss Sunshine, and is good competition for Jesse Eisenberg in the ‘loveable but awkward geek’ category. Supporting turns by Chris Messina, Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas – and the always amusing Steve Coogan – round out a colourful cast. But Kazan is the revelation here. She has impressed me since a wee turn in Ryan Gosling drama Fracture, and here she gets to ride the gambit of every emotion known to (wo)man – and she does so convincingly. Writing chops and acting talent – I see a bright future for her.
The ending was, without ruining anything, a little bit convenient, but overall this film was full of laughter, sunshine, and real relationships. I think anyone who enjoyed the equally lovely 500 Days of Summer will find something to enjoy here. I award four different coloured M&Ms for this charming flick.