A Case of You

Year: 2013
Production Co: Lagniappe Films
Director: Kat Coiro
Producer: Justin Long
Writer: Justin Long
Cast: Justin Long, Evan Rachel Wood, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage, Vince Vaughan, Brendan Fraser, Sienna Miller

When talking about the by-all-accounts abominable Movie 43, Mark Kermode of the BBC thought the producer must have had some dirt on all the stars involved, explaining how such an irascible film ended up with such a stellar cast.

A similar question occurs to you when watching A Case Of You. No, it's not bad (at least, not nearly as bad as the by-all-accounts dreadful Movie 43). It's just all a bit meh, the kind of premise we might have seen in a sitcom in the 90s.

The story is not very distinctive, and then it doesn't even stand up to its own indistinctiveness by being as one-note as the set-up suggests. The question is how director Kat Coiro ended up with names like stars Justin Long and Evan Rachel Wood and cameos from Peter Dinklage, Vince Vaughan, Sienna Miller and Brendan Fraser.

The answer appears to be Long himself as producer and writer and the clout he could bring to bear/favours he could call in. To repeat, A Case of You isn't a bad movie, it's just the sort of thing far lesser actors (and writers) would have done ten or more years ago – even aside from the contemporary plot device in Facebook. In fact that leads one to wonder how much the social network contributed to the budget, and after Vince Vauhgan wrote and produced The Internship, there might be a disturbing parallel in his career.

The postage-stamp conceit is that a self-doubting writer (Long) falls in love with a barista (Wood), crafts himself into the perfect guy for her based on everything she says she likes on Facebook, and then runs himself into the ground keeping up the pretense.

Except that he... sort of... doesn't. Firstly, it takes way too long to get anywhere and the whole time, it just feels like there's nothing at stake. For at least an hour it's a protracted boy meets girl story with no real conflict or downside, just the hero racking up one more random experience after another that he thinks she'll love – experiences he appears to enjoy as it puts him within reach of his heart's desire.

Then, only minutes from the end and for no apparent reason, he snaps, launching a tirade against her about how exhausted he is pretending he likes all these things, one that takes her as much by surprise as it will you. You see it turns out that the whole time, he's been pathological – almost psychotic – about creating the perfect man for the woman he's in love with based on her online profile, all the while keeping the real version of himself tightly locked away (we catch a glimpse of it earlier on seeing him talking about his mother leaving him as a kid).

It's an abrupt shift in tone that belongs in a gritty, emotional drama rather than a rom-com and which comes much too late to do anything except throw the whole tone of the movie off. And just as quickly, a convenient wake up call sees him running back to put things right all too easily, dropping the hot potato just when it was finally getting interesting.

Too many other tropes we've seen in a million other movies (from the writer who can't write a word to the cool urban jungle of New York where coffee is a form of social currency) bog the whole thing down in rom-com cliché, and the result doesn't really go anywhere, no matter how many famous faces Long and his director got for a few days here and there.

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