Directed by: Susannah Grant
Premise: A woman who has been widowed just days before her wedding (Jennifer Garner) discovers that her former fiancé had been having affairs and may have produced a child with a flighty new age therapist (Juliet Lewis).
What Works: Catch and Release is a very satisfying film. The actors have been cast to play to their strengths and in that they do well. Garner is good as Gray, the recent widow, and the film gives her a chance to stretch her acting skills beyond what other projects have allowed her to do. Timothy Olyphant plays the philandering friend of Gray’s deceased fiancé and her eventual love interest; Olyphant is able to balance charisma and sexuality with some quiet moments that give the character empathy. In the core cast the nonverbal sequences have been staged very well and the actors are able to play out some awkward moments for laughs and for tears. Lewis gives one of the better performances in the film as the mother and new age therapist. How her character interacts with Gray is very interesting to watch as the two women move from hostility to respect and the scenes give both actors opportunities to develop their characters.
What Doesn’t: If Catch and Release is lacking anything, it is in the filmmaker’s decision to play things a little too safe. As a black comedy, Catch and Release just isn’t dark enough despite a few set pieces that have the potential. Rather than break out of the clichéd romantic storyline, the film toes the line, especially in the third act. Kevin Smith’s performance as Sam, the slovenly roommate, is the funniest role in the picture but his scenes feels like neutered bits from Smith’s own films. It’s funny nonetheless but he seems to be playing himself, or at least his public image, more than the character in the script. As a result of all these half measures, the film is only good where it could have been great.
Bottom Line: Catch and Release is a well-done film. As a romance the film is predictable and it is hampered by half measures, but it is still enjoyable.
Episode: #129 (February 11, 2007)