Friday, September 3, 2010

Going the Distance

Going the Distance may not exactly rock the conventions of the rom-com, but it is a refreshingly vibrant addition to the genre. So while the meet-cute, montages and requisite emotional rollercoaster (or are dodgem cars a better metaphor?) follow a route as familiar as the one our couple criss-cross between New York and San Francisco, the saving grace is chemistry. It can’t necessarily have been a given that real life on-and-off again couple Drew Barrymore and Justin Long would be able to spice up the silver screen, and yet admirably and oftentimes hilariously, they manage to do so. Playing [insert your suitably yuppie professions here], Erin and Garrett share a delightfully drunken one-night stand before agreeing to casually keep seeing each other for Erin's final six weeks in the Big Apple.

No points for guessing what happens next, but here's where credit must go to debut screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe and especially director Nanette Burstein (American Teen), for keeping up the pace and mixing the many phone montages with a solid supporting cast. Christina Applegate is a great addition as Erin's protective sister Corinne. The character may be derivative of Leslie Mann’s turn in Knocked Up, yet she and Barrymore share some of the film's funniest scenes, filled with raunchy girl talk. In fact, one of the most delightful aspects of Going the Distance is the (all too rare) eclectic array of blue, silly, witty comedy the script gives the women to bash around.

As Burstein's first foray into feature filmmaking, Going the Distance benefits from her documentary background. Bearing a light touch and a fine ability to juggle an ensemble, she has succeeded in injecting new vigour into an increasingly desperate genre. And regardless of whether or not Barrymore and Long make it off-screen, their youthful frivolity and rapid-fire repartee are skilfully wedded together on film.

Published on Concrete Playground
Australian release date: 2 September 2010

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