Radio 09.18.09

            This is Ron Salfen, “At the Movies,” and here’s my commentary on a film opening today at The Majestic Theater in Greenville :
At last, a romantic comedy that’s not too mushy, or even very predictable.  In “Love Happens,” Aaron Eckhart plays Burke, who’s apparently made lemonade out of lemons by writing a book after his wife died in a car accident, about working through the grief.  Now he has an agent, and he’s on the book tour, and has turned himself into a kind of rah-rah self-help guru who encourages people to do things like work through their pain by walking barefoot on hot coals.  Or, while holding the “truth candle,” tell strangers their deepest secrets, because it’s supposed to be cathartic, and healing.  But all is not how it appears for Burke.  He’s still working through his own suppressed guilt about the accident (he was driving, and they were arguing).  He hasn’t spoken to her parents since, he seems to be a fanatic about keeping himself in shape (always avoiding elevators), but also appears to be slugging a little vodka on the sly.  Enter Eloise (Jennifer Aniston), who has a few problems of her own, namely the curious habit of picking guys who aren’t going to be faithful, and then, of course, she can reject them, which makes her the righteous martyr:  pristine, virtuous, and lonely.  Eloise, of course, recognizes that Burke’s a fake, but he also perceives some of her facades, as well.  The development of their relationship is so difficult that we wonder along with them whether it’s worth the trouble.  This is a film that takes seriously the reality of grief.  As such, it will probably tap into any unresolved grief of the viewer, as well.  So many unsuspecting folks will need the Kleenex, but not for the “awww” moments normally associated with romantic comedies.  Actually, “Love Happens” doesn’t even try to be funny, relying instead on tapping into a kind of ironic emotional malfeasance.  And yet, somehow, much of it feels genuine.  Eckhart excels at playing a parody of himself (a role he perfected in “Thank You For Smoking”).  Aniston, playing the typical working neurotic, has never looked more winsome, or more appealingly vulnerable.  This movie works, and at an unexpected level.  Just be prepared for a little darker mood than you might otherwise anticipate.
This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” for 93.5 KICK-FM