Cinema Review: The Book of Love | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The Book of Love

Studio: Freestyle
Directed by Bill Purple

Jan 13, 2017 Web Exclusive
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“The Book of Love is long and boring” – the first lyrics of the Magnetic Fields song (a cover of which plays over the final minutes of Bill Purple’s horrendous film), couldn’t more aptly summarize this atrocious flop. Jason Sudeikis stars as Henry, a straight-laced architect about to make the biggest upward move of his career, when his zany pregnant wife, Jessica Biel, dies in a freak car accident. Some of her last words to him are a request that he say hello to the homeless girl (Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams) frequently caught pilfering discarded lumber from their back yard. So, despite his grief, the thirty years separating them, and absolutely no other basis for connection, Henry invites the street-tough youth to sleep in his backyard. Their bond slowly builds over shared cups of hot chocolate and a hackneyed Henry-gets-stoned sequence, and the girl reveals that she has been stealing from him because she needs scrap material to build a raft. Naturally, Henry decides to give up his career, home, and family in order to help this underage cohort so that they may sail off into the ocean together.

If the premise sounds absolutely awful, that’s because it is. Despite this, the film’s casting instills reason to be hopeful; surely the alluring Biel, rising star of Williams, occasionally funny Sudeikis, potent Mary Steenburgen (Biel’s screen mother), and veteran Paul Reiser (Henry’s boss) can collectively pull off a win. However, such is painfully not the case. From the very opening moments of the film, it’s apparent that the following 106-minutes will be miserable. And indeed, they prove excruciating. The script (Purple shares credit with Robbie Pickering) is formulaic and beyond unfunny. Worse, it is completely forced. No action or character motivation makes sense, and Henry’s bond with the girl comes across as both illogical and inappropriate. Supporting characters are unbelievably even more stereotypical farces than the leads, and for over an hour and a half, the film struggles to sell the audience on its plot, as well as its raison d’etre.

It’s hard to know how the film could turn out so poorly. Perhaps Biel and Purple, who spent years developing the film and ushering it through countless iterations, were too close to the material. Perhaps too much of value was left on the editing room floor. Perhaps too many other producers and production heads and execs had a hand in it, leaving it a muddles mess. Whatever the root causes, one thing is certain, The Book of Love, much like Henry and the girl’s raft, is guaranteed to sink as soon as it sets sail. Let’s hope the rest of the 2017 cinema year is much, much, much better.

Author rating: 1.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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