Lovelife (1997) / Comedy-Romance

MPAA Rated: R for language, drug content and sexuality
Running Time: 96 min.

Cast: Saffron Burrows, Jon Tenney, Matt Letscher, Carla Gugino, Sherilyn Fenn, Peter Krause, Bruce Davison, Tushka Bergen
Jon Harmon Feldman
Screenplay: Jon Harmon Feldman
Review published October 8, 2004

Alternating between pithy and smarmy, Lovelife is first-time writer-director Jon Harmon Feldman's attempt to marry the ensemble character appeal of TV's "Friends" with an introspective look at relationships akin to Woody Allen.  Although it never really achieves the lasting pleasures of either, there are moments where the film works well, and just enough of them emerge to make Lovelife a talky but well-made film about relationships where the grass always seems greener on the other side. 

The plot follows the dalliances among seven collegian lovers, some graduate students and some professors, and their attempts to find happiness within their circle of friends.  Alan (Tenney, Entropy) feels like he's stuck in a rut, when he can't seem to gain a reaction from Molly (Fenn, Of Mice and Men) except unadulterated admiration.  He soon has his eye on Zoey (Burrows, Troy), who is currently seeing Danny (Letscher, The Mask of Zorro), but finds the allure of Alan's lustful desires too much to pass up.  Meanwhile, Danny is the object of a crush by Amy (Gugino, Snake Eyes), but he's so fixated on Zoey, she settles for loner dropout Tim (Krause, HBO's "Six Feet Under") instead.  Finally, divorced professor Bruce (Davison, X-Men) puts the moves on Molly, who is still reeling from her rejection by Alan.

Yes, the plot is a little on the tedious side, as there are quite a few characters for a film that's just a little over ninety minutes, and as a result, not very much time is spent in fleshing out the relationships fully.  The real problem is that for all of their anguish and soul-searching, the characters sometimes seem rather shallow and underdeveloped.  Some of their situations bring up interesting subject matter that never hits home because Feldman must move the story on to the next would-be coupling. 

What Lovelife does feature is a very capable cast of actors, all of whom deliver some very good performances in roles they don't always get to play.  While it is mostly a comedy, there are several scenes of drama mixed in that are expertly handled, with Tenney and Gugino showing that they can do more than cutesy roles when given the chance. 

Lovelife isn't really a keeper for the video library, but if there's nothing else on television and it happens to be on, it provides enough food for thought and interesting characterizations to be worthwhile.  It is sometimes downbeat and verbose, so those who watch romantic comedies for big laughs or contrived situations of embarrassment will want to give this a pass.  However, if you like any of the actors, or just enjoy serio-comic films about relationships, Lovelife has more ups than downs.

Qwipster's rating:

2000 Vince Leo