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Something's Gotta Give (12A)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: None listed at time of going to press

SHREWD casting and a knowing sense of humour make for an irresistible combination in Jack Nicholson’s latest romantic comedy, which takes a witty and insightful look at the dating game for the older generation.

As a successful music executive, who has made a life out of dating younger women (always under the age of 30), Nicholson may not be stretching himself too far, particularly when muttering lines such as, ‘some say I'm an expert on the younger woman - since I've been dating them for 40 years’, but it is exactly for this reason that the film works so well.

Anyone who loves Jack, can’t fail to love the movie, particularly as the actor is on such fine form.

The same can be said for Diane Keaton, recently rewarded with a Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy, as well as an Oscar nomination, who provides a neat sparring partner for the wily old veteran, as well as a tremendously affecting ‘soul mate’.

Reunited for the first time, on-screen, since 1981’s Reds, the pair provide an endearing couple, benefiting strongly from writer-director, Nancy Meyers’ surprisingly effective script, which is, by turns, delightfully funny and poignantly heart-breaking.

The dynamics of the story are fairly simple. Nicholson’s ageing womaniser, Harry Sanborn, arrives at the Summer home of Diane Keaton’s straight-laced author, Erica Barry, with the intention of bedding her sexy, young daughter, Marin (Amanda Peet), only to have his romantic endeavours plunged into chaos by a suspected heart attack.

Ordered to rest by Keanu Reeves’ dashing doc, Julian Mercer, Harry is forced to hole up in said Summer home with only Erica for company, and promptly finds himself drawn to the older woman despite his best efforts to the contrary.

Their ensuing relationship is played with an honesty all too rare in cinema nowadays, making this a journey of re-discovery that is well worth taking.

With films such as What Women Want and Baby Boom, Meyers proved herself to be adept at delivering crowd-pleasing romantic comedies, despite a knowing smugness which undermined much of her good work.

Here, however, she gets the balance just right, playing off the strengths of her leads, but giving them plenty to do within the confines of the genre. Hence, we can laugh at the obvious gags involving nudity and awkwardness, but we can also shed a tear during the moments of tenderness between them.

When Keaton and Nicholson share a bed for the first time, for instance, both end up crying over the significance of what has just happened, and so, too, may we, given the esteem we have come to hold for them.

Likewise, when Nicholson comes to realise the emptiness of his former lifestyle, we can’t fail but root for him, as he attempts to make things right.

What makes the achievement more remarkable, however, is that the audience never feels as though they have been manipulated, arriving at their feelings because of the sheer expertise of the performances.

Credit, too, deserves to go to the likes of Keanu Reeves, who is surprisingly good as the doctor who also falls for Keaton’s charms, and to Peet, who provides a nice sounding board for her mother.

On the negative side, the film does have a tendency to forget certain characters, such as Frances McDormand and Jon Favreau, as respective friends and colleagues, but this is a small price to pay when the central partnership works so effectively.

This is, at the end of the day, a rich and engrossing affair, in which the experience of its performers is worth its weight in gold.

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