(Four of a Kind Productions) Laura (Katie Holmes) isn’t happy at all, driving up the Maine coast to reunite with a group of college buddies… for she’s to be maid-of-honor as her true love marries her best friend.
Laura had gone with Tom (Josh Duhamel) for a number of years, only to lose him to her best friend and former roommate, Lila (Anna Paquin) — rich, blond, beautiful and über confident Lila. Yeah, the stage is set for sparks to fly as the former tight-knit clique of bright young things starts popping corks. Back at Harvard, the group called themselves “the Romantics.”
Based on the novel of same name by prolific producer Galt Niederhoffer — who also scripted and directed — The Romantics is a comic-dramatic ensemble piece that questions Love and Life, all in a madcap 24-hour period at a posh seaside estate, ostensibly leading to a grand wedding.
Laura’s friends Pete (Jeremy Strong) and Tripler (Malin Ackerman) are married, and Jake (Adam Brody) and Weesie (Rebecca Lawrence) are engaged. Laura is the only member of the group to show up without a partner, which pairs her, via the wedding formalities, with Lila’s horny hobbit of a little brother, Chip (Elijah Wood).
The bride’s cute younger sister Minnow (Glee‘s Dianna Agron) causes some mischief while Waspy mother Augusta (Candice Bergen) does her best to keep matters under control. And things do get a bit out of control, as Lila, on her wedding eve, tries to get some calm in her room as her friends go out for a drunken late-night swim. Everyone returns to shore except the groom, who swims off into the darkness. We soon learn that there are deeper undercurrents to our romantic triangle.
Without giving more of the story away, we'll say that Niederhoffer lets her characters peel away layers from each other. It’s nice to see such character development and revelation in an age of increasing video-game-based movies — not that they can’t be fun, but why the hell can’t Hollywood find more intelligent scripts like this?!
The Romantics manages to inject humor while provoking thoughts and stirring drama. Josh Duhamel provides a charming yet vexing male love interest. Anna Paquin (playing a million miles from her vampire-chasing Sookie on True Blood) shows her dramatic chops as we start to see the picture behind her perfect picture. And Katie Holmes gives the performance of her life — intelligent, vulnerable, passionate; taking this role was a smart choice, as her work shows depth, power, and nuance. Although this small, modestly budgeted film may be overshadowed come Oscar time by bigger, badder productions, Holmes’ performance deserves mention in that league, nonetheless. This is one movie star who deserves the designation.
As an auteur, novelist-screenwriter-first-time-director (how’s that for a trifecta?) Niederhoffer certainly deserves the credits. But as an auteur, she also might also have trimmed a line or two here and there, and perhaps given us a tad more from the novel regarding a few of the supporting characters — although her subplots are fun, as gowns get ripped and mates get mixed.
That said, The Romantics provides a fine ensemble cast who deliver a smart and entertaining film.
Why We Like It: great performance from Katie Holmes, excellent ensemble cast, layered characters