Book of Love1990

Genre: Comedy, Romance
Book of Love takes what could be a trashy premise and turns it into a strikingly honest examination of human messiness. Elaine (Frances O'Connor, Mansfield Park) and David (Simon Baker, The Ring Two) are a happy, successful couple who befriend a clever, athletic, but lonely 16 year-old boy named Chet (Gregory Smith, Everwood). But when Chet falls in love with Elaine, she responds and sleeps with him out of a mix of sympathy and desire. From here the story could have become overwrought melodrama, but the subtle script, perfectly-pitched performances, and lucid direction make Book of Love a portrait of smart, articulate people at the mercy of their least articulate emotions: lust, jealousy, anger, fear. Writer/director Alan Brown, making his debut feature film, even manages to weave in issues of goodness and the history of Cambodia without the movie ever feeling academic or didactic--on the contrary, the movie feels intimate and physical throughout, as concerned with the character's animal responses as with their struggle to remain rational. Also featuring Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village) and music from indie bands The Magnetic Fields and Clem Snide. --Bret Fetzer

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