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Overall Rating

Awesome: 26.92%
Worth A Look30.77%
Average: 7.69%
Pretty Bad: 3.85%
Total Crap30.77%

1 review, 20 user ratings

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Book of Love (2004)
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"Where's Chris Young When You Need Him?"
1 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2004 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: Whatís worse when youíre watching a movie? Not knowing what purpose the filmmaker was trying to get across or a purpose that is so whacked that itís impossible to take seriously? I didnít know what I was thinking during Alan Brownís Book of Love except how the drama is so thick with a contrived laughability that your only recourse is to start believing that youíre watching a comedy. Then you start looking at your neighbor to see if theyíre laughing and if he or she is its usually coupled with a headshake and a hand over their forehead.

Hereís your setup: Elaine (Frances OíConnor) and David (Simon Baker) are a nice, attractive married couple. Affection is still there for both of them but we can sense they are headed into that level of marriage known as contentment. We know this basically because they arenít going at it like rabbits on the night of the apocalypse. Chet (Gregory Smith) is a 15-year old at a nearby high school who apparently does nothing but swim, get picked on and work at the ice cream shop.

One night Elaine and David walk in and strike up a conversation with the young lad consisting mostly of ďguess our agesĒ like he was a carnival barker whose prize was free dessert. For whatever creepy reason, Elaine looks Chet up and down like he was Brad Pitt instead of the skinny, barely out-of-pubescence kid that he is. Even more creepy considering the subtext of how Elaine has already told us that sheís not ready to have a child. Unless heís about 15.

The couple immediately take Chet into their lives like some kind of surrogate child, inviting him out for a night on the karaoke town with their lesbian friends, to their house for dinner and even promising to take him to Disney World. Iíd love to see that commercial spot, since once youíve just committed statutory rape what are you going to do now?

Oh, have I jumped ahead? What the hell. Yes, Chet and Elaine jump each otherís bones almost never acknowledging the age factor, only the adultery factor which leads her to immediately tell poor hubby. David, meanwhile, has been privy to the crush of one of his students at the all-girls school he teaches the history of the Khmer Rouge to. But not a single element of any of this is more fascinating then how Davidís classroom is stuck with the worldís most ineffective blackboard eraser in history.

Thatís the kind of thing I was thinking about during Book of Love, which continues to fly in the face of anything resembling a plausible situation or emotion (save for Davidís one true reaction at work to the bad news.) Just once itíd be nice for one of their friends to ask why the couple is hanging around with this kid. Or someone to tell the filmmakers that bad symbolism sticks out even more when the drama is unconvincing. Oooh, David and Elaine sit in their respective cars while its raining. Her wipers are going, his face is blurred by the raindrops. Itís amazing that B.J. Thomas isnít heard on the soundtrack. After David is asked to be a sperm donor for the lesbian baby, we cut to a shot of a spouting lawn sprinkler. Subtle.

ďDoes the grammar really matter as long as you get the idea right,Ē asks one character? My answer would be ABSOLUTELY especially when the idea is all over the map. You can get credit for something, but Book of Love is beyond even that. OíConnor has been an actress Iíve respected for awhile now, but between this and Timeline I just donít know anymore. Maybe she can endlessly twirl herself at the end of this film into a good role. Itís only part of an inexplicable epilogue where one character ends up with another (whom heís never met in the course of the film) in CAMBODIA only to discover that there are still some land mines out there. Itís only a shame they werenít standing on it holding Book of Loveís script when it went off.

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originally posted: 01/27/04 08:07:48
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/27/13 Ira Confusing movie...I really wish that there was more info. to understand why Elaine cheated. 4 stars
5/19/11 Lyn Great performance from Simon Baker as David. A bit unrealistic but the emotions were real. 5 stars
1/29/11 Steven Osterstrom The movie was great; reviews appear to be by people stuck in conventional thinking. 5 stars
10/26/10 leyla There was something about this film that it stuck in my head, especially the characters. 4 stars
11/18/09 courtney! Your not supposed to understand it, you're supposed to feel it. 4 stars
11/17/09 Jack It keeps you thinking about it and the songs are stuck in my head along with the characters 5 stars
10/19/07 Dawn I noticed the rubbish blackboard eraser too. Some good performances. 4 stars
2/20/07 Franklin Obviously, you didnít get itÖ That movie is great! 5 stars
12/03/06 Michelle I thouht it was an interesting movie and I would love to find the sound track. 5 stars
11/14/06 greg eraser still stuck in my head.ha..good songs.. 3 stars
11/13/06 Dave Scott Needed more violence, drugs, explosions, nudity or something!! Make it into a porn video. 1 stars
9/30/06 ELISE I Liked It The Songs Were The Best 4 stars
7/29/06 Deborah Promising start, but it ends flat, kinda vapid. Pity the cliches weren't explored. 3 stars
5/20/06 Dusty Howard I thought the movie was good. Does anybody know where I can get the soundtrack? 4 stars
4/01/06 J.M. hits you in the heart, moving, GREAT 5 stars
12/21/05 Joe songs were good, story was real unbelievable crap 1 stars
8/18/05 David I thiought it was a great movie, graet acting, great story 5 stars
7/02/04 jeffrey Un believable plot & story line...WHO CARES? 2 stars
2/11/04 Deborah Duggin I liked the acting - plot implausible 4 stars
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  N/A (R)
  DVD: 26-Apr-2005



Directed by
  Alan Brown

Written by
  Alan Brown

  Frances O'Connor
  Simon Baker
  Gregory Smith
  Bryce Dallas Howard

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