Review: Accidental Love

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Painful

Oh, a comedy with Jessica Biel and Jake Gyllenhaal: looks good. No. No it's not. Don't watch it.

Jessica Biel and Jake Gyllenhaal starring in a zany comedy by David O. Russell, now what could possibly be bad about that? Pretty much everything, it would appear. With David O. Russell leaving the film halfway through shooting in 2010, it was eventually completed without him, but it really should have just been left unmade.

Accidental Love tells the story of Alice Eckle (Biel), who during a date with her almost-fiancée Scott (James Marsden) gets hit in the head by a nail-gun. The injury leaves her brain damaged, and as a result, she heads to Washington D.C. to meet with Congressman Howard Birdwell (Gyllenhaal) to try and pass a law providing medical-aid to people who have suffered accidental injuries. Hilarity (supposedly) ensues.

Yet there is no hilarity to be found. In fact, the film seems to repel humour in any form. Jokes get set up and then not delivered, or else suffer from a monumental lack of taste – Tracey Morgan (as Keyshawn) repeatedly makes jokes whose humour seems to rest on the fact that he is African American and nothing more. There is a large segment of the film devoted to Girl Scouts and child lesbianism for no discernible reason, and Alice’s brain damage appears to make her insatiably horny, which, apparently, is funny. The script seems like it was written by an eleven year-old, not someone who has twice been nominated for an Academy Award for screenwriting. Watching the actors try and slog through the car-crash of a script they were working with was a truly uncomfortable and unpleasant experience. None of the talent on show fair particularly well, except for perhaps Jake Gyllenhaal, and while his delivery of certain lines shows a kind of shiny eagerness (which would ordinarily have made for quite a funny performance), what he was actually saying was so poorly written it may as well have just been nonsense.

It is abundantly clear that Accidental Love was pieced together from an unfinished project, but that doesn’t defend it, or save it, or make it acceptable. It’s a truly awful film, one that feels like a caricature of Russell’s other work – character driven, off-the-wall plots that kind of work their way around an important moral issue. Except the characters here are all vile, the plot makes little-to-no sense, and the central issue is not so much delicately built up and hinted at as it is shoved violently down your throat at every possible opportunity, and that’s the worst part. As bad as it is and as much as he may have distanced himself from it, this is a David O. Russell film and there’s no escaping that.

Accidental Love (2015), directed by David O. Russell (as Stephen Greene), is distributed in the UK by Arrow Films, Certificate 15.

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A 3rd year English student who likes staring at all the pretty moving pictures. Also books, I suppose. I do take English after all

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