Stuck in Love is Full of Smart Characters Actually Doing Something


It’s hard to tell actual stories about people whose lives are in holding patterns, because the synopsis is all, “Ned lied on the sofa and farted and nothing else happened, the end.” (That screenplay is called Garden State, by Mr. Zachary Anastasia Braff.) Better to start at the end of the stasis period, in which the house is on fire and Ned actually has to do something. Writer-director Josh Boone populates Stuck in Love with smart characters breaking from emotional holding patterns of varying contours. William Borgens (Greg Kinnear) is a two-time PEN/Faulkner Award–winning author who still stalks his ex-wife two years after their divorce, and who pays his children to keep journals so that they’ll focus on their own writing instead of working entry-level service jobs. His daughter, Samantha (Lily Collins), is an avowed cynic who rejects men who evince any kind of sincerity or good intentions, and his son, Rusty (Nat Wolff), is a high school introvert who stays home to write poems on Friday nights. William can’t write anymore, living vicariously through the creative lives of his kids, a metaphor for the stasis of his life without ex-wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly), who struggles with her estrangement from Samantha. They’re all living inside burning houses, and it’s the job of the rest of the film’s characters to yell and wave their arms to warn them, including a cameo by Stephen King as himself, in a brief scene that evokes the method naturalism of his Jordy Verrill character in Creepshow.