10 April, 2012

Atlanta: "L!fe Happens" (**1/2)

Krysten Ritter and Kate Bosworth star in "L!fe Happens"

When the 36th Atlanta Film Festival kicked off March 23rd, the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema was a madhouse. Aside from the throng of film-fans there for the festival, "The Hunger Games" brought plenty of people to the theater as well. Standing in the crowded lobby for ages, watching the red carpet, hearing people talk about the films they were most looking forward to; Atlanta's titular film festival had a fantastic opening night.

The film chosen to jumpstart this year's festivities was "L!fe Happens" from director Kat Coiro. She co-wrote the film with Krysten Ritter, a familiar face from television. Ritter stars alongside a sprawling ensemble of Kate Bosworth, Rachel Bilson, Geoff Stults, Justin Kirk, Kristen Johnston, Fallon Goodson and Jason Biggs.

It was a good move by the festival to pick a lighter, commercial crowd-pleaser such as "L!fe Happens." The film isn't a paramount of complexity or social commentary, but it possesses plenty of charm and offers a ton of laughs. There is a wealth of great one-liners and tag-teaming dialogue.

Bosworth's character is the best written. While she has the most stereotypical role (a maneating feminist), her performance and the script allow her to elevate it a great deal. Krysten Ritter, who I am most familiar with from her work on "Breaking Bad," is great in a comedic role. This should serve her well in her new television sitcom. Rachel Bilson is cute-as-a-button, and is there mostly to be cute-as-a-button, but she does surprise with some much appreciated conviction by the end. Justin Kirk's nerdy quirkiness makes for the most laughs throughout the movie.

Just like the title, the film suffers from a slight triteness. We don't see anything particularly new, but we also don't mind. Everyone performs well and everything is edited neatly in it's place. The film moves along at a great pace, neither dipping nor resolving too quickly. Corio's loving touch is evident in her direction throughout the whole piece.

"L!fe Happens" is a cute film and certainly much more deserving of success than so many of the romantic comedies that litter our cinemas throughout the year. I had a wonderful time being there for opening night and it was a pleasure to see Kat Coiro and Fallon Goodson in attendance.

2.5 out of 5 stars.

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