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Addicted to Love

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Addicted to Love

Starring: Meg Ryan, Matthew Broderick
Director: Griffin Dunne
Rated: R
RunTime: 101 Minutes
Release Date: May 1997
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Kelly Preston, Tcheky Karyo, Maureen Stapleton

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

ADDICTED TO LOVE is a fresh and surprisingly good, romantic comedy by actor Griffin Dunne in his first time as a director of a feature length film. In it writer Robert Gordon creates a wondrous tale of two jilted lovers who reluctantly join forces when they find that their ex-lovers are now living with each other.

Sam, played by Matthew Broderick in a role somewhat reminiscent of his character in INFINITY, is an astronomer with a big heart. Every day at high noon, he points his huge telescope down to earth so the love of his life, Linda (Kelly Preston), can wave to him from the park in their little town. When Linda disappears, leaving only a "Dear John" letter for him, he tracks her down to New York where she is living with a Frenchman named Anton (Tcheky Karyo).

Sam, looking disheveled and with his constant 4-day-old beard, sets up shop in an abandoned warehouse across from Anton's apartment. Using all of his scientific prowess, he begins graphing everything right down to Linda's degree of smile. With the data he is confident that he can predict when Linda will break up with Anton and return to him. Afterall, these same statistical techniques worked for him when gazing at the stars. Well, as you can imagine, humans are much less predictable than celestial bodies.

Into Sam's cozy world comes Maggie, played by Meg Ryan in her best comedic part since WHEN HARRY MET SALLY... Ryan, who is one of the most talented actresses working today, is probably most enjoyable in her funny parts, but, to be honest, it is in her serious roles as in COURAGE UNDER FIRE and, one of my personal favorites, WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN that her greatness shows best. All of this notwithstanding, she is terrific in ADDICTED TO LOVE.

Maggie was tossed aside by Anton, and she wants to get even with him. She does not want to kill him, but if he died, well, people die every day. She moves uninvited into Sam's lair and starts watching Anton and scheming ways to seriously mess up Anton's life.

Biker Maggie, with her punk rocker heavy black eye shadow and her tough-as-steel attitude, sets Sam straight from the beginning. She sleeps naked, but he is not to interpret that as a come on. She elaborates on the pain that she will inflict on him if he even touches her. Ryan is given some great dialog and hurls sexual insults at Sam as well as the absent Anton.

From the beginning, you know that Sam and Maggie are bound to get together. The intelligent script makes the inevitable enjoyable anyway because the characters created are so incredibly likable and interesting. You want them to fall in love and do not care if it is clearly preordained. Tough Ryan dishes out one funny line after another to straight man Broderick, and the chemistry between them is beautiful.

Several key decisions were made that make the film work so well. One was to concentrate on two leads rather than four. Karyo and Preston support the leads but never compete with them for screen time. Broderick, in a recent interview, said that he felt awkward playing a role that director Dunne could have played himself. While true, the casting remains perfect as is. Broderick has the good sense to let Ryan set the rhythm for their interactions and roll with the punches.

Easily, the most intriguing and innovative aspect of the movie is Sam's use of a camera obscura to project Linda and Anton's images into Sam and Maggie's hiding place. This delicious plot device is milked for everything it is worth. Sometimes Sam and Maggie even set on a old sofa, MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER-style, and make up funny dialog for what their ex-lovers are saying to each other.

ADDICTED TO LOVE is a sweet show, even in its blackest moments. It posses a high spirited energy and a perfect sense of timing that never loses the audience's attention. Only in the needlessly slapstick body cast scenes does the movie ever bog down. An intelligent picture that leaves you enchanted and delighted as you leave the theater. I found myself bursting into song in the parking lot for reasons unknown. Good movies can cause such strange reactions.

Copyright 1997 Steve Rhodes

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