Posted June 16, 2015 by editor in Film Reviews

Accidental Love Review


The title of Stephen Greene’s political farce/romantic comedy is telling in many ways. For one thing, the production process in itself wasn’t without accident, or rather incident. Halted repeatedly for funding reasons, director David O’Russell (of Silver Linings Playbook fame) eventually left the production before it was finished, taking his name off the credits and crediting it to a pseudonym. Then there is the actual accident at the start of the film itself: Alice (Jessica Biel), a waitress at a fifties-style café somewhere in small-town Indiana, is shot in the head with a nail gun. No, she doesn’t die (this isn’t a spoiler) and yes, this is exactly as absurd as it sounds.

As it happens, Alice’s boyfriend, a local police-man played by James Marsden, was just about to propose to her but demands his ring back when he finds out that the operation that could remove the nail from his girlfriend’s head is well out of reach from medically un-insured Alice. So the nail stays and leads to all sorts of erratic behaviour on Alice’s part, including violence, enhanced sexual appetite and speaking Portuguese. After an unsuccessful (and completely ludicrous) attempt by the local vet (Kirstie Alley) to remove the nail, Alice goes on a quest to Washington to petition congressman Howard Birdwell (Jake Gyllenhaal) to sponsor a health bill that would give free “catastrophic” health insurance to all. After temporarily getting rid of Alice’s pharmaceutically challenged companions – a reverend with a constant erection (Kurt Fuller, expect groan-worthy sexual jokes) and a bodybuilder with an ailing bum (Tracy Morgan) – in the most contrived way possible, Alice is free to indulge in the aforementioned erratic sexual behaviour and shag Birdwell within minutes of meeting him. In a different universe, this would be viewed as a sleazy politician taking advantage of a young woman with a serious medical condition but none of that; suspension of disbelief here seems to mean that the audience should regard Alice’s condition, her previous lack of orgasms, and Birdwell’s cuteness to constitute enough grounds for this to pass pretty much uncommented. Credit where credit is due, though: the sex-scene that takes place entirely outside the frame, orchestrated by the song “At Last” and with only the characters’ limbs flailing about is one of the film’s few inspired moments. If only it had more of those – and made better use of its stellar cast who are doing their best to save it (special credit to a delightful James Marsden) but without much success. It’s simply too all over the place, too uninspired and too crude for that. A little more subtlety would have helped.

Granted, Accidental Love is clearly intended as a farce, hence the absurdity. To view it as anything else would be to fail to acknowledge the deliberate hyperbole that is present from start to finish. Rather than a romantic comedy, it’s a satire on the US political system filled with politicians (here mostly represented by Catherine Keener) that stop at nothing – not even murder – to achieve their ends. However, Kristin Gore’s (yes, that’s Al Gore’s daughter) script lacks wit and it is filled with mostly unlikeable or uninteresting characters making implausible choices. Given how many better executed examples of political storytelling have hit cinema and especially TV screens recently, this omnishambles of a film doesn’t have a lot to offer to either Romcom fans or politics nerds.


Anne Korn