Movies can complement or distract emotion pretty well, and during a holiday for lovers, I sometimes opt for heart-warming or heart-pumping movies. If you feel like switching it up, here are two very different films for whichever mood you’re in this Valentine’s Day.
I’m a fan of romantic comedies, but I do tire of their formulaic plots. That’s why “Stuck in Love” was a breath of fresh air.
Bill (Greg Kinnear) is a divorcee who’s still hung up on his remarried ex-wife, Erica (Connelly), but more than your typical rom-com, “Stuck in Love” looks at the lovey growing pains of Bill and Erica’s children.
Samantha (Lily Collins) opts for pragmatic promiscuity to avoid heartbreak on par with her father’s, and Rusty (Nat Wolff) is a high-schooler who falls for a classmate with some deep (snort) secrets. Both young actors do a phenomenal job, and Collins has more acting ability than her “Mirror, Mirror” past. I don’t know where Wolff came from, but in one scene where the whole family drives to rescue Rusty’s girlfriend from herself, I was completely arrested by his execution of emotion.
Kinnear and Connelly bring it, though I was a little uncomfortable with some of the mood shifts in this movie. It goes from serious to light-hearted a bit uneasily. In one scene, Kinnear’s neighbor (Kristen Bell) helps him dress for a date. Cue the cute music and montage of outfits. This would have worked seamlessly in any other romantic comedy, but “Stuck in Love” travels into realistic territory — addiction, cancer and dealing with your own flaws — so well that this change of heart didn’t seem to fit.
“Stuck in Love” can bring you back to your first heartbreak and casts a spotlight on what first love may look like today. I was completely engaged and rooting for these characters, and I’d watch it again as it offers a taste of realism with a (mostly) satisfying ending.
M. Night Shyamalan has been dead to me since he made trees serial killers in “The Happening.” So with sighs and eye rolls, I watched “Devil,” a film based on one of his stories, and I reluctantly admit I was into it.
Five strangers are stuck in an elevator, and one of them is Satan! Sounds a little ridiculous, but “Devil” unfolds like a crime thriller or “Law and Order” episode, as a detective (Chris Messina) digs into each passenger’s past.
The gore is pretty minimal in this PG-13 flick, but the real suspense kicks off as you watch them squirm in a confined space.
In one scene, a claustrophobic passenger starts to unravel as the lights malfunction, and whenever the lights go out, someone dies. This setup built suspense because I put myself in their shoes, and save for some too-obvious thematic references (the elevator’s in a building at 333 Locust Avenue), I did want to see what happened next.
This is supposed to be the first in “The Night Chronicles Trilogy,” and I’d easily watch the next two movies when they’re released — if they were streaming and if they were no longer than 80 minutes.
Both available: Amazon Prime, Netflix Instant.
IndieWatch is a weekly review of independent film and documentaries.
What’s your favorite rom-com?