Another Monday is upon us. If you listen carefully you can hear the collective sigh of mourning for the weekend gone past, and the cacophony of rushing to get ready, and to fill our cups with coffee, or tea. We all have our morning rituals, our routines and fastest routes, and ways and means to get by. But, let’s take a minute in all the hustle and flow to return to the theme at hand, the A-to-Z Cinematic Love Story Series, and settle in to the letter C, and the 2006 film Catch and Release.
Though I’ve read more negative things about this film than positive, it is a favorite of mine, and not only because it has one of my all-time cinematic crushes in it (Timothy Olyphant), but because there is something about the story, the characters, and the idea of a unconventional family forged, that I love. It is one of those love stories that I believe in, and root for, but it is also a celebration of friendship, and the love found with those we choose to share our lives with above and beyond the romance (though I love the romance in this, too).
The cast is full of favorites of mine, from Jennifer Garner (loved her since Alias and 13 Going on 30), Sam Jaeger (Joel from Parenthood, and Thom from another romantic favorite of mine, Take Me Home), Kevin Smith, Juliette Lewis, and aforementioned Timothy Olyphant. The story, though it starts in somewhat of a “trope” situation, follows Gray (Jennifer Garner) and her reaction, recovery, and new life steps after the sudden and unexpected death of her fiancé, Grady. She is left to pick up the pieces, some pieces surprising (and upsetting), with a ragtag group of people who were all connected to her fiancé’s life, including the mother of his child, both of whom he’d never told Gray about.
I love the friendship that develops between Gray and Sam (Kevin Smith), as well as the friendship/love that grows between Sam and Maureen, and Maureen’s son with Gray’s late fiancé. I love the character of Maureen, and what she brings to the group, the dynamic and energy, and eccentricity. Fritz, Grady’s best friend, and what unravels between Gray and him, is beautiful to watch. The chemistry they have, the uncertainty and hesitation, and the vulnerability, seems palpable and very real.
The kiss they share, that first one, is one of my all-time favorite screen kisses ever. I love that Gray kisses him first, because I think it was necessary, I think she needed to in the situation, plus it makes it all so much more sexy to me that she does. I love the passion in the kiss, and how it melds into something more intimate, with more love infused into it, the way it goes from Fritz holding her arms to the wall, to each of them weaving fingers together, holding on to each other (see below). Then Gray’s hands are free, and they are all over Fritz, and his all over her, as everything that has been held just under the surface is freed between them (at least for that moment).
The one character that I never felt a connection with is Dennis (Sam Jaeger), which is only because the film never flushes out his character enough. He comes across flat, and his story arc derivative, which is unfortunate as I know how complex the actor can play given the write script to work with. I felt that his feelings for Gray were more plot device than real emotion, and that may be unfair to say, but it is how it comes across on-screen.
I root for Gray through the entire story. Losing someone you love, and becoming a younger than typical widow (they were engaged, but for conversation sake, I’m going to title her that), is difficult and complicated, and attaches a stigma on you to others. It also leaves a mark on your heart that is different than any pain a break-up can affix on you because there is never a real end, not by anyone’s choice, but by circumstance, thus it becomes so much harder to find closure, and to not carry an unbearable amount of guilt for trying to live, and love, again.
The soundtrack to the film is quite good. It includes a mix of singer-songwriter, and alt-rock bands that I enjoy, like Evan Dando, Foo Fighters, Death Cab For Cutie, The Magic Numbers, and Joshua Radin.
What If You :: Joshua Radin
In the end, no matter how predictable it may be, I find myself cheering both Gray and Fritz on, and wishing when the credit rolls to see a little bit more of their new found love. I like to believe that there is love and life after loss, and that there is always a new chapter left to open. This movie, well, it makes me happy.
“What took you so long?”