Every now and then, for reasons that are largely unknowable, a movie is promoted as being one thing when it is actually something very different. Love Happens is a case in point. The trailer sells it as a romantic comedy: it isn’t. Sure, there are some smiles during it, but it is actually a light drama dealing with the heavy weight issues of bereavement and grief.
Aaron Eckhart is good in a role which stretches him rather further than usual, and Jennifer Aniston is satisfactory in a part which demands little of her than to look attractive, occasionally pleased and, more often, rather puzzled. Martin Sheen is OK in a role which is deceitfully sold initially as one of the agrieved and grieving father, but turns out to be quite another.
But pride of place must go to John Carroll Lynch with a strong, sympathetic, and very believable performance in a supporting role.
I enjoyed this movie even though I felt that it was rather glib in the way it dealt with some elements of the story). Ekhardt plays a man who is in the driver’s seat when he loses control of his car, and his wife is killed. He writes a book, austensibly about how to move beyond the profound sadness of such a loss, and it becomes a huge success. But it is also a huge sham. He is not over his wife’s death. Even though he demands that participants in his workshops confront their grief, in a mixture of bully and sympathizer, he himself has not been able to admit that his actions led to his wife’s death. Not to himself or to her family.
In walks Jennifer Aniston, and is is a whole other story. Here is a woman who could capture even the most depressed man’s attention. She is cheerfully oblivious to her own charm, and is equally put off by Echhardt’s celebrity, but they forge a tentative relationship with each other. He confesses to her. She does some in vivo exposure with him. And eventually he manages to take a few baby steps towards healing some of his own wounds. This is not a great movie, but it is a good one, and it deals with some very difficult to talk about realities about loss. I rated it 6/10.