Directed by Don Roos
Review by Lauren Snyder <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I feel I must start out by saying that I have not yet seen The Opposite of Sex, the critically lauded first film by Bounce scribe Don Roos. Oh, I've rented it more than once, but I've never actually sat down and watched it. After seeing this film, I'm more curious to see it than ever.
This was a good, good movie. Yeah, it pretty much followed the course you expected it to take. There is no doubt about the ending. Yet the characters are so endearing, the film is so beautifully shot, and the dialogue is so wonderfully natural and yet fresh and inventive, that I don't mind going along for the ride.
The movie opens on a shot of Chicago's O'Hare airport on a snowy December day. The composition of the grey sky, the grey plane coming in and the stark grey terminal is not only lovely understated foreshadowing, but a brilliant shot as well. As the film continues, the cinematography continues to delight, with rapid-fire, blurry images illustrating Buddy (Ben Affleck)'s descent into alcoholism after he gives up his plane ticket to family man and heck of a nice guy Greg Janello (Tony Goldwyn), who dies when the plane crashes soon after take-off.
Buddy's Alcoholics Anonymous twelve-stepping leads him to seek out Greg's wife Abby (Gwyneth Paltrow) and they begin seeing each other. Their relationship is highlighted by more and more amazing shots of Los Angeles in all of its Technicolor beauty. -- Why am I spending so much time on cinematography in this review? Because you wouldn't expect such an attention to detail in a romantic drama, but there it is.
The performances are excellent. Gwyneth Paltrow sheds her Hollywood Idol image in a fascinating portrayal of someone so hurt and vulnerable and yet so goofy and gutsy. A lesser actress would've turned Abby into an obnoxiously pathetic creature, or a "look how spunky I am in the face of adversity" chick, but Paltrow sidesteps this and makes us really care about her. Ben Affleck's Buddy is another complex and human character, one that couldn't have been one-note but who is a great match for Affleck's strengths as an actor. And when Ben and Gwyn get together, their sincere affection for one another is apparent.
Another character who is fun to watch is Seth, played by "Roseanne" alum Johnny Galecki. Given the part of the bitchy, smart-alecky gay Production Assistant in Buddy's advertising firm, Galecki has a great rapport with Affleck, and is a needed respite from the otherwise serious romance. Tony Goldwyn, though only appearing in the first few minutes, is so aw-shucks likeable as Greg that you feel Abby's pain at losing such a decent fellow.
There is nothing new that can be said in the "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back" category of screenplays. Even still, Don Roos manages to say it in a thoroughly engaging way.
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