It sounds so depressingly familiar: the successful professional woman who just can't find and/or keep a man in her life... So far, so Bridget Jones. But, rather than being a wide-eyed bundle of Ally McBeal-style neuroses, Famke Janssen's Kate is a cool, sussed girl about town. She may have more than the average number of failed past relationships, but at least, thanks to Valerie Breiman's perceptive screenplay, she gets her fair share of the funny lines.
It's a real breakout role for Janssen, who up until this point has either played relatively minor supporting characters for respected directors (Woody Allen, John Dahl, Robert Altman) or the more decorative variety (GoldenEye). However, despite the model looks which kick-started her career, Janssen shows a refreshing lack of vanity in Love And Sex. In one flashback sequence, she plays the gauche adolescent Kate with her mouth crammed full of defiantly ugly metal braces. Later on, she smiles sweetly when smooth-talking Jon Favreau woos her with the words: ""Your hands are huge - - you look like a tree frog!"". Swingers star/writer Favreau also shines, showing his strengths as a fine comic actor after a succession of straight(ish) man roles.
But Love And Sex's problem lies within Breiman's screenplay. It's an astute, well-observed and often very funny piece of scripting, but the writer/director allows the plot's time line to become hopelessly confusing towards the end.
As Kate begins to write her article, the flashbacks are initially fairly easy to follow. But when she begins to think about her relationship with Adam, it becomes difficult to distinguish the flashbacks from the present. A little more voice-over would have clarified the structure, but Breiman uses this device only sporadically throughout. Still, despite the muddled conclusion, there are plenty of laughs to be had in this satisfyingly smart rom-com.
Given the baffling plot structure and unremarkable direction, this should be far less successful than it actually turns out. But sharp, witty dialogue and charismatic performances from the two leads make Love And Sex impossible to dislike.
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