Reviewed by: Misty Wagner
What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer
|Featuring:||Jennifer Garner, Timothy Olyphant, Kevin Smith, Sonja Bennett, Juliette Lewis, Fiona Shaw|
|Director:||Susannah Grant (debut)|
|Producer:||Casey Grant, Ryan Kavanaugh, Lynwood Spinks|
|Distributor:||Columbia Pictures (Sony)|
When the funeral of Gray’s (Jennifer Garner) fiance' Graydon coincides with what would have been their wedding day, she becomes lost. Appearing to have no friends or family herself, and being unable to afford the rent for the house she would have shared with her husband, once they were married. She is forced to pack her belongings into a storage shed and move into the house her fiance' had shared with roommates Dennis (Sam Jaeger) and Sam (Kevin Smith)—taking over his room as her own.
It is immediately after the funeral that Gray begins to learn that Graydon had secrets. Big ones, and this naturally causes her to doubt their relationship and question everything they had shared. Together, she and his roommates sort of stumble along, trying however they can to get through this.
And then there is Fritz (Timothy Olyphant) who was Graydon’s best friend from high school. Now a director out in California, Fritz came to Boulder for the funeral and for reasons never really mentioned, he decides to stick around. It’s obvious that he and Gray don’t know each other too well, or really care for one another that much. Despite a rough start, just after the funeral, it is Fritz who seems to hold the key to the secrets her fiance' had been hiding from her. While Graydon’s mom and other friends seem caught up in their own grief, it is Fritz who unexpectedly takes care of Gray.
Predictably (only because anyone who had seen the trailer knows this happens), a relationship develops between Gray and Fritz.
Audiences around the nation are likely to be filled with people expecting a cute little love story, but “Catch and Release” isn’t that, exactly. Though marketed as a “chick flick,” it isn’t really that either. Written by Susannah Grant (“28 Days,” “Erin Brokovich”), strong characters and an emotionally empowering storyline are not a surprise. From the very moment the story takes off, (at the funeral) the scenes are weighted with heavy emotion. We learn who these characters are, and see their humanity, by their heartache and suffering. At times the “supporting characters” take center stage which makes these two hours feel less like a movie and more like walking into someone’s life at a really raw and uninhibited time and bearing witness to everyone trying to find their way and learn to be okay again. Though funny parts are scattered through out, it is easy to find yourself see-sawing along with the emotional tides of this film because this cast, and these characters, are so relatable. Even though we never even really see a picture of this man that they all loved and lost, there are times in the movie where it would be easy to feel you had lost something as well. Twice I was caught off guard and brought back to the reality of the theatre because, for me, I felt swept up in each of their mourning and journeys to find themselves again.
Despite the emotional depth of the movie, what surprised me the most was the quality this film entailed. With Jennifer Garner and Kevin Smith both cast, I knew the acting would be sincere, but everything else was of high quality as well. The soundtrack flowed with the film flawlessly, the cinematography was beautifully artsy and yet more so in a classic sense. This truly was a great movie to see!
The language gets pretty heavy at times, especially in a scene where Kevin Smith is yelling at a little boy and trying to get a hold on an out of control situation. There are other instances of profanity as well.
Though there isn’t really any nudity there are two actual intercourse scenes and a few other implied instances. One scene is crude and tasteless, and it is meant to be just that. It depicts a desperate moment and is story line specific but could possibly be uncomfortable to sit through. Most of that particular scene is done off screen so you are just hearing the crass dialogue during the brief encounter. The other scene however, is a difficult one. It is long and intimate. The camera shots in this scene are impressive. Because of the high volume of emotion through out the film, this too is a heavily emotional scene. To a degree, the encounter could have been necessary to the script but the scene is a fairly heavy one and so I have to strongly caution viewers.
There is fairly heavy alcohol use throughout the film, both on screen and off. There are a few drunken scenes. You find out, early on, that Gray is on sleeping pills to help her cope. Later in the film there is a purposeful drug overdose.
The very early parts of Gray’s relationship with Fritz are sexual. The idea that a mostly sexual relationship could equal love is one that Hollywood is still, sadly, trying to push at us. I am not stating that from an entirely Christian perspective. I realize this story isn’t about Believers, so we can’t expect them to maintain the lives and values that Believers should. I will continue more on this in The Good section of this review because I do feel this is another way in which this film stands out differently…
Despite the origin of Fritz and Gray’s relationship, it isn’t the sex that keeps it going. In fact, as the characters continue to mourn in the destructive ways they are trying, things continue to grow worse for them.
As I mentioned, the first sex scene (at the funeral) is painted in an honest and negative light. This is a good thing… If the film makers feel the need to place sexual relations in a movie, I can’t help but feel that we should commend them on using these things honestly. Just as with the relationship between Fritz and Gray. Sex may help them comfort, but it isn’t implied that this leads them to love. It isn’t anything that makes their lives better, in fact it causes things to get a little worse. The sex in this film, be it in the two scenes or in things that are discussed, is honest. There are real life and really difficult consequences. There is no glamorizing of the weakness of flesh and in reviewing this film, I have to respect that.
Even though the character of Graydon is dead, those who love him are left to pick up a huge mess because of the poor choices he made when he was alive. I think this is an important “visual” for many of us to get.
Bad choices are made, bad things happen as a result of them. There is nothing preposterous about the content in this film. These are real life things. Maybe not in my life, or yours, but in someone’s. Someone, somewhere, will sit tearfully in this movie and possibly feel for the first time that they are not alone. This is a good thing… A movie is more than entertainment, it is more than art. It is meant to tell a story, a story which can sometimes help us where we are at in life, and sometimes it helps us open up and relate to where others may possibly be.
I believe this is a film which holds the potential to do such things…
Even though it may seem like I had a lot more bad than good to say about “Catch and Release,” I have to point out that isn’t the case at all. I loved this film. I loved the stories, and I especially connected with the characters. If you are not easily offended, then I wholeheartedly recommend this film. Despite the objectionable content, the only other observation I made is in regards to subject matter. People tend to mourn in different ways. Having recently been through the death of loved ones, I found this movie to be very therapeutic and comforting. This is not to say that there may be others going through something, who would find the emotional matters in this film to be too much.
I hope this review is helpful to those of you considering seeing this movie. Because of the sexual relations in the film, I would encourage parents not to allow their teens to see it, or at the very least, see it with them and talk about it. To those who do see the film based on this review, I hope you like the movie, and I hope it touches your heart as it has touched mine.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.