×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Romantics

Seriocomedy remains short on involving characters or situations.

With:
Laura - Katie Holmes Tom - Josh Duhamel Lila - Anna Paquin Tripler - Malin Akerman Jake - Adam Brody Minnow - Dianna Agron Pete - Jeremy Strong Weesie - Rebecca Lawrence Chip - Elijah Wood Augusta - Candice Bergen

Producer and Plum Pictures partner Galt Niederhoffer’s directorial debut, “The Romantics,” is an adaptation of her 2008 novel about longtime conflicts bubbling to the surface in the hours before a posh New England wedding. While in some ways an improvement on the book, this seriocomedy toplining Katie Holmes remains short on truly involving characters or situations, and is likely to spark unflattering comparisons to such vaguely similar, more distinctive films as “Rachel Getting Married” and “Margot at the Wedding.” Theatrical prospects look modest, but the pic should transition easily to cable.

Laura (Holmes) is the most reluctant member of wealthy, beautiful Lila’s (Anna Paquin) wedding party, in particular because the groom happens to be their fellow Harvard classmate Tom (Josh Duhamel), who dated Laura for years before abruptly switching his attentions to her roommate Lila. Still, the close bond between Laura and Tom didn’t end (even sexually) for some time — in fact, not until just before Lila called to announce their engagement and ask Laura to be her maid of honor.

Exacerbating her discomfort, Laura is the sole member in a tightknit group of college friends to show up without a partner. Tripler (Malin Akerman) and Pete (Jeremy Strong) are married, if not too happily, while Weesie (Rebecca Lawrence) and Jake (Adam Brody) just haven’t set a date yet. As a result, Laura gets paired with Lila’s reliably embarrassing brother Chip (Elijah Wood), a black sheep who takes great pleasure in mortifying steely matriarch Augusta (Candice Bergen)

Taking place over about 24 hours at the family’s seaside home (considerably less grand here than described in the novel), the story sees everyone get drunk at the rehearsal dinner, a latenight swim that results in Tom’s mysterious disappearance, subsequent search parties prompting partner-swapping misbehavior, and of course Laura having major confrontations with both Tom and Lila.

Latter scenes fall somewhat flat due to labored dialogue and relationships in which the audience is underinvested. While trimming the original material to a fairly brisk running time creates improvements — there’s scant arch and clunky prose left; the characters aren’t as irksomely pseudo-witty or backstabbing — “The Romantics” still lacks people we care about, or who even credibly care about each other.

Some excisions reduce whatever depth the material might have plumbed, notably excluding any reference to Laura’s sense of cultural schism as the lone Jew in this WASP-y crowd. But the really odd choice is to eliminate the primary (if mild) suspense hook: In the book, there’s real concern that Tom might have drowned (accidentally or otherwise), but here that notion is cleared up right away.

Perfs are just OK, with Duhamel registering Tom’s ill-articulated pre-wedding panic most strongly. Packaging is adequate, though overdependent on mediocre soundtracked songs for pacing, and rather drab in visual presentation. Some of these factors may well change — the pic was shown at Sundance as a work-in-progress, albeit one screened for the press, and was shown on HD pending a final 35mm print. Producers say slight editorial changes, color grading, some f/x, final sound work and scoring were still ahead.

Popular on Variety

The Romantics

Production: A Team Todd, Plum Pictures and Benaroya Pictures presentation in association with 10th Hole Prods. Produced by Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Galt Niederhoffer, Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd, Michael Benaroya, Taylor Kephart. Executive producers, Riva Marker, Katie Holmes, Pamela Hirsch, Celine Rattray, Ron Stein. Co-producers, Cecilia Roque, Elizabeth Beier, Simon Crowe, Todd J. Labarowski, James Belfer, Cynthis Coury, Randy Simon. Directed by Galt Niederhoffer. Screenplay, Niederhoffer, based on her novel.

Crew: Camera (color), Sam Levy; editor, Jacob Craycroft; production designer, Tim Grimes; art director, Jeremy Rosenstein; set decorator, Robert Covelman; costume designer, Danielle Kays; sound (Dolby), Lew Goldstein; assistant directors, Curtis Smith, Paul Epstein. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Premieres), Jan. 27, 2010. Running time: 94 MIN.

With: Laura - Katie Holmes Tom - Josh Duhamel Lila - Anna Paquin Tripler - Malin Akerman Jake - Adam Brody Minnow - Dianna Agron Pete - Jeremy Strong Weesie - Rebecca Lawrence Chip - Elijah Wood Augusta - Candice Bergen

More Film

  • Game of Thrones Season 6

    Directors UK Launches Guidelines for Directing Nudity & Simulated Sex

    Directors UK, the professional guild for screen directors, has launched guidelines for “directing nudity & simulated sex” to prevent unprofessional conduct in film and TV. Described by the guild as the “first of their kind in the U.K.,” the new “guidelines are born of the need to set clear and shared professional expectations that apply [...]

  • People attend the opening ceremony of

    Korean Festival Selectors Resign Over Programming Independence Complaint

    Three programmers who have headed the Jeonju International Film Festival, South Korea’s second largest festival, resigned en masse on Tuesday. They say they are protesting the encroachment on their independence by the board of directors and city authorities. The three – Kim Young-jin, Lee Sang-yong and Jang Byeong-won – have led the Jeonju film festival [...]

  • Yuni Hadi

    Singapore Film Festival to Reflect South East Asian Spirit of Cooperation

    Yuni Hadi, executive director of the Singapore International Film Festival, says South East Asian cinema contains exciting talent. And that the way forward involves cooperation with the video streaming platforms. What have been the high and low points of the cinematic year for Southeast Asian cinema? “There are some amazing short films and documentaries that [...]

  • Adele Haenel Adèle Haenel

    Accusations Against Roman Polanski, Other Filmmakers Propel #MeToo in France

    When the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke two years ago, the news was mostly met in France with a Gallic shrug. Screen icon Catherine Deneuve even denounced the #MeToo movement as creating a “totalitarian” environment. But bombshell accusations this month from actors Adèle Haenel and Valentine Monnier may finally have turned the tide in the local film [...]

  • Peppa Pig

    U.K. Competition Watchdog to Examine Hasbro's $4 Billion Deal for Entertainment One

    Britain’s competition watchdog will investigate Hasbro’s $4 billion takeover of Entertainment One. The Competition and Markets Authority said Thursday that it would examine whether the intended acquisition of eOne would result in a “substantial lessening of competition” under U.K. rules. The CMA was deeply involved in scrutinizing the sale of Sky, which was ultimately bought [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content