Lot Like Love, A [2005]

The words "subtle" and "Ashton Kutcher" rarely appear in the same sentence, but here goes: A Lot Like Love, a romantic comedy starring Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet, is surprisingly and pleasantly subtle. The story starts when Emily (Peet, Igby Goes Down) and Oliver (Kutcher, Dude, Where's My Car?) meet on a flight to New York and have a tryst in the airplane bathroom. After a day's dalliance, they part and don't meet again for four years--when they meet, spend a day together, part, and don't meet again until...you begin to get the idea. The script could have been dangerously cute, but director Nigel Cole (who helmed the delightful Calendar Girls) carefully steers Peet and Kutcher, two actors not generally noted for their grasp of character nuance, towards fairly three-dimensional portrayals of two floundering twentysomethings who can't seem to find the right moment. There are a few rom-com cliches--at one point, Oliver serenades Emily in front of an audience of her neighbors--but most of the movie is low-key, engaging, and smacks of actual human experience. Also featuring Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle) and Kathryn Hahn (Anchorman). --Bret Fetzer

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