Love & Sex

In the voiceover narration that runs throughout Love & Sex, a lackluster romantic comedy that's independent in financing only, single magazine writer Famke Janssen offers a number of alleged insights into matters of the heart: "The first love is the most powerful because no one's been hurt yet." "Love is a minefield," yet "people will keep getting hurt because it's better than being alone." But considering how the genre has devolved from the heights of Annie Hall to the middlebrow standard of When Harry Met Sally to HBO's inexplicably acclaimed Sex And The City, a more appropriate analogy would be this: Romance is a perpetual stand-up routine that ends when the jokes go stale. Like The Tao Of Steve, its more celebrated cousin at Sundance, Love & Sex is nothing much to look at and strictly by the numbers, staked entirely on the strength of its catty banter. That it remains watchable and fitfully entertaining is mainly due to the charisma of its two leads, especially Jon Favreau, who recaptures the ingratiating charm that has been missing from his performances since Swingers (which he scripted). Janssen's ruminations on past relationships are prompted by an assignment at a New York glossy to work on an article about how to find and keep the perfect man. As she runs, Woody Allen-like, through her disastrous romantic history, it becomes obvious that she's not all that qualified to write on the subject. But the piece forces her to reconsider the lone standout among her old lovers (re: the only one suitable for any kind of human interaction), a wise-cracking abstract painter played by Favreau. Writer-director Valerie Breiman flirts with a few thorny relationship issues—partners getting bored with each other, male hang-ups about a woman's sexual history, long-term commitment problems—but she's not serious enough about them to wriggle away from tried-and-true formulas. Predictable at every turn, right down to the montage-of-highlights-from-the-film-you've-been-watching, Love & Sex adds up to less than the sum of its decent, disposable chatter.

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