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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Save the Date - A Film Review

Save the Date is a 2012 romantic comedy-drama directed by Michael Mohan and written by Mohan, Jeffrey Brown, and Egan Reich. The film stars Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Martin Starr, Geoffrey Arend, and Mark Webber. The film focuses on two sisters (Caplan, Brie) who are in relationships with two guys in a rock band (Starr, Arend), and their romantic frustrations and anxieties.

The movie opens with a really sweet title sequence of cartoons of the main characters in their typical relationships, “drawn” by the film’s lead character, Sarah, an artist. They illustrate the characters’ personalities in a fun and relatable way, and match the hipster L.A. vibe of the film.

Sarah (Caplan) is dating Kevin (Arend), but has trouble being in a serious and committed relationship. She moved in with him, but is hesitant about settling down with him, while he wants to marry her quickly. Against his friends’ advice, he proposes to her at his band’s show in front of the audience, and she dumps him, gets her own place, and begins dating Jonathan (Webber), a customer at the bookstore she manages.

Caplan delivers a very complex and interesting performance as a relatable yet unlikable person. While her anxieties are understandable, she is often selfish and inconsiderate, pushing away other people when she feels too emotionally vulnerable or too open beyond her snarky guard.

Beth (Brie) is more traditionally romantic, and is planning her wedding to her boyfriend Andrew (Starr), an affable and laid-back guy. She is dealing with anxiety over the fact that her boyfriend doesn’t care about the wedding or planning details, and is just leaving it to her to manage. She wants an ideal relationship like her parents, and is easily miffed whenever something doesn’t go according to plan.

Brie plays Beth with kindness and sincerity, and Beth has the flaw of trying to fix her sister’s life while trying to keep a happy front for her upcoming nuptials.

Starr is likeable and sympathetic as Andrew, the solid voice of reason amongst the love pathos. He is just a good guy who wants to see happiness amongst his friends, and dreads that Sarah will break Jonathan’s heart, just as she did to Kevin.

Arend brings a heartbroken quality to the dumped Kevin, who mourns the loss of his relationship throughout the film. He isn’t presented as being pathetic, more just emotionally wrought and unable to move on. Kevin isn’t a bad person, but he isn’t too bright, and wasn’t able to tell that his girlfriend wasn’t into marriage or heavy commitment.

Webber plays Jonathan well as a nice guy, but his personality as a self-aware “dorky” hipster is annoying. Jonathan seems too self-aware and tries too hard to be funny. However, he is willing to be emotionally open and grow past old hurts, whereas Sarah distances herself when things get too close, repeating the errors of her relationship with Kevin. Jonathan is good for her, but she doesn’t seem deserving of him.

The film is enjoyable, and is fairly light for its plot. Melonie Diaz is really underused, a talented actress stuck to playing Sarah’s best friend in a few scenes. Diaz showed a lot of charm and talent in Raising Victor Vargas, The Itty Bitty Titty Committee, and Be Kind Rewind, and it is a waste to see her in a throwaway role. Also, the film throws in a couple of subplots in the last third that seemed unnecessary and didn’t add anything special or interesting to the film. It can be a little too hipster for its own good sometimes (the L.A. indie rock scene, twee music, Sarah’s drawings), but the lead performances by Caplan and Brie make the film really strong and enjoyable to watch, as two actresses who deserve to be in well-written and interesting roles in their careers. I would recommend this film as a casual watch for those interested in indie romantic comedy-dramas. Andrew (Starr), an affable and laid-bac

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