Loverboy Movie Review

Much like Robert Towne's recent adaptation of Ask the Dust, Kevin Bacon's Loverboy is a labor of love. Sometime in 2003, Kyra Sedgwick (Bacon's spouse) handed him a copy of Victoria Redel's novel, Loverboy, and both found themselves eager to bring the story to the screen. And similar to Towne's effort, Bacon is so enthusiastic about the material that he can't get his concentration correct.

Emily Stoll (Sedgwick) is in her late 20s and roaming the Midwest and just about everywhere else for the right ejaculate. After a miscarriage from a "no father," multi-partner pregnancy, she meets Paul (Campbell Scott) and in one night of passion, a child is conceived. The son, Paul aka Loverboy (Dominic Scott Kay), quickly becomes Emily's entire life, trying to make life a magical, ongoing discovery. Emily has nightmarish flashbacks of her lovebird parents (Bacon and Marisa Tomei) who were too busy being in love to take care of a child properly, and she daydreams of her fantasy mother, Mrs. Harker (Sandra Bullock). Loverboy eventually becomes wise to his mother's obsessive grasp on him and begins to revolt, especially when she tries to seduce Mark (Matt Dillon), a father figure. This, of course, can't end well.

Where Towne embalmed his adaptation, Bacon seems so enveloped and in love with the non-linear structure that the book presented that he sabotages the film from really grabbing hold of us. The constant flashbacks, done in Hitchcockian Dutch angle style for absolutely no reason, never seem to make much headway from the initial one as to why Emily acts this way. They seem to hinder the story rather than making further revelations in character or story. Hannah Shakespeare writes Emily as speaking with perfect grammar, and quoting several trampled-on phrases about bravery and falling in love. It never hits true, and it takes any subtlety or poetry out of the characters.

Bacon has the luck of nabbing a who's-who of great character actors to play small roles in the film. Scott actually makes the trite lines about love and passion sound somewhat digestible and Bullock, though brief, registers as surprisingly sharp. Dillon continues to be a scruffy charmer, after his much touted performance in last year's Crash. Sedgwick has a rough role to play and she tries to make it work, but somewhere between blotches of overacting and an unbalanced script, we lose any empathetic or sympathetic feelings for the character and realize that no change in character has really occurred by the end (a major no-no).

What's lacking here is the cold-eyed structure of a storyteller and filmmaker, both in the writing and the direction. The film registers at around 85 minutes and we are given no moments alone with Emily or any reasoning that she has reverted into a child-like state (again, the flashbacks don't give ample proof). The end result is a film about a crazy woman who lives in a bubble and an overly mature child trying to get out of that bubble; a bubble the audience is never really let into.


Loverboy Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: R, 2005


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