Shock, M, 94 Mins
The often bitterly funny modern musical by Jason Robert Brown is here adapted for the screen and directed by Richard LaGravenese, and while the low budget and hurried production sometimes shows, there’s also no doubt that Anna Kendrick (a Broadway star before she became a movie star) and Jeremy Jordan are fine, and bring just the right sexy humour and agonising pain to their roles as contemporary star-crossed lovers.
The set-up is compelling, as all of the songs by struggling actress Cathy Hiatt (Kendrick) begin at the end of the relationship, while those performed by up-and-coming novelist Jamie Wellerstein (Jordan) proceed from start to finish, with the only time they’re at the same point (and singing the same song) proving to be the most crucial moment in their relationship halfway through the movie (and perhaps the moment where it all went wrong?). And many of the tunes are terrific: Kendrick’s opener Still Hurting is powerfully sad (despite some bitchy criticism by purists); Jamie’s very male Moving Too Fast is uncomfortably amusing, as is his The Schmuel Song; and Kendrick also excels with A Summer In Ohio, where it’s all falling apart between them, as song titles thereon demonstrate (Climbing Uphill and I Can Do Better Than That, for example).
Ambitious, despite the financial constraints (the songs were mostly recorded live, a most unusual decision which accounts for a little of the unease), this will be laughed at by those who hate musicals (ie. the types who furiously ask, “What the Hell are they fruitily singing for?”, and, “Why does no one else seem to notice???”) and certainly doesn’t qualify as a ‘Date Movie’, as its disquieting deconstruction of a relationship shows how the big bad world can come between even the most seemingly perfect couple.
You know, someone should really do something about that…