Have you ever bent a friend’s ear with the gory details of an on-again, off-again relationship, going into excruciating detail about what made you and your lover so wrong yet so right for each other? If so, then Love & Sex will make you appreciate your friend’s infinite patience.
In her blow-by-blow coverage of the trials and tribulations of Kate Welles (Famke Janssen) and Adam Levy (Jon Favreau), writer-director Valerie Breiman very nearly wears out her welcome. What keeps the film from being cloying are these two underrated performers, who keenly play up their strengths from a position of weakness, and that most of the story derives from a female point of view.
That’s not necessarily radical, but the writer Welles (who comes off like a coltish Katherine Hepburn) is particularly brutal in her self-analysis. The statuesque Janssen, whose previous roles (GoldenEye, City of Industry, Rounders, X-Men) have cast her as confident, regal, even killer women, is a bundle of insecurities here, the nerdy duckling who doesn’t realize she’s grown into a swan. Breiman envisions Kate as the female version of a Woody Allen romantic loser, whose experiences with the opposite sex confirm a fatalistic view of life as an endless string of comedic woes.
As the first man, Adam didn’t deal with the woman in his life very well, and his namesake, a sweet but neurotic painter of violently explicit canvases, seems only slightly better off. Unfortunately, while Breiman chronicles Kate and Adam’s roller-coaster ride (hitting a few insightful spots along the way), she too often resorts to slapstick at the expense of her characters. She’s lucky, then, to have Janssen and Favreau (Swingers, Very Bad Things), who bring a welcome dignity to this tale of two goofballs in love.
Serena Donadoni writes about film and culture for Metro Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.