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Book of Love

31 customer reviews

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(Apr 26, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Elaine and David seem to have the perfect marriage. But everything changes when they meet Chet, an innocent 15 year old boy full of youthful wonder. The threesome form an immediate bond, but a momentary lapse in judgment threatens to rupture the core of the trio's seemingly idyllic lives. A sensual tale of the complexity of marriage and desire, Book Of Love examines the choices we make in our daily lives-and the consequences that follow.

Book of Love takes what could be a trashy premise and turns it into a strikingly honest examination of human messiness. Elaine (Frances O'Connor, Mansfield Park) and David (Simon Baker, The Ring Two) are a happy, successful couple who befriend a clever, athletic, but lonely 16 year-old boy named Chet (Gregory Smith, Everwood). But when Chet falls in love with Elaine, she responds and sleeps with him out of a mix of sympathy and desire. From here the story could have become overwrought melodrama, but the subtle script, perfectly-pitched performances, and lucid direction make Book of Love a portrait of smart, articulate people at the mercy of their least articulate emotions: lust, jealousy, anger, fear. Writer/director Alan Brown, making his debut feature film, even manages to weave in issues of goodness and the history of Cambodia without the movie ever feeling academic or didactic--on the contrary, the movie feels intimate and physical throughout, as concerned with the character's animal responses as with their struggle to remain rational. Also featuring Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village) and music from indie bands The Magnetic Fields and Clem Snide. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

  • 2004 Sundance Film Festival profile of director Alan Brown
  • Inside Book of Love: A Conversation with director Alan Brown
  • US Trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Frances O'Connor, Simon Baker, Gregory Smith, Bryce Dallas Howard, Joanna Adler
  • Directors: Alan Brown
  • Writers: Alan Brown
  • Producers: Michael Romero, Mickey Liddell, Robert Ahrens
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sundance
  • DVD Release Date: April 26, 2005
  • Run Time: 83 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007R4TJE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,222 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Book of Love" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By interested_observer on May 5, 2005
Format: DVD
"Book of Love" is a moderately engaging tale of the effects of adultery on the three principal characters.

Elaine Walker (played by Frances O'Connor) is a 27-year old event planner who likes her yoga and wants to be child-free for another ten years. Her husband, David (played by Simon Baker), a history teacher at a girls' school, has slowly been gaining weight and wants a family. Getting ice cream cones, they are served by Chet, an almost-16-year old high school swimmer working part-time (played by Gregory Smith). Incidentally Elaine gets a look at Chet's tight abs and is impressed. Another visit for ice cream leads to a dinner invitation. Chet hasn't traveled much; so the couple takes him to New York City and promise to take him to Disneyworld. Elaine shortly gives into Chet's desire, after which Elaine tells her husband.

David, though visibly upset, tries to rise above the situation and says he wants to fulfill his promise for the couple to take Chet to Disneyworld. Although both Elaine and Chet have deep misgivings, the three fly down to Orlando and check into a motel with pool. There the anger of David and the wishful thinking of Chet make an appearance, with maybe some other undercurrents. Seeing this, Elaine freezes up. The film heads toward its conclusions.

There are two useful subplots, one involving a student with a crush on David and the other with a lesbian couple wanting David to be a sperm donor. Both subplots give insight on David's character.

None of the three principal characters is forthright in expressing feelings or wants to discuss issues. The dialogue is directed at surface events and is meant to convey an acceptable social exterior.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dia on June 21, 2013
Format: DVD
If you like reckless & repugnant pederasts, passive-aggressive phonies or predators dressed up as politically correct do-gooders then this film is for you. Otherwise, skip it. I wish I had. Here -- I'll save you from having to watch it:

A young-ish seemingly cute couple does yoga, travels to impoverished lands, eats hydroponic veggies & hangs out with lesbians in Manhattan. Therefore, Elaine & David think they are "good" and "caring" and "intelligent" people. They think they are really classy, learned and clever. They know things about history and politics and thus, they are quite keen on themselves. They meet a VERY young kid -- only 15 years old. Chet's never been to the big city! Oh no! Travesty! They take it upon themselves to remedy this egregious trauma in Chet's life and very quickly traumatize him. Elaine, 28 yo, claims to be reaching out to Chet because he's "practically an orphan" (with a dead or missing mom and a dad who works a lot.) By her own admission, she KNOWS he's vulnerable -- a lonely, sad and needy kid. She willfully exploits this. From the get-go, her interests are not pure but prurient. She ogles him within moments after meeting him, having gotten him to take his shirt off. She flirts outrageously. The kid is, well, a kid. Hormonal, horny, confused, off-kilter. He's hungry for attention / compassion / kindness. Bullied at school, forlorn at home, Chet's the perfect prey for a predator. He's also quite precocious and eager to seem more grown-up than he is. However, despite his intellect & precocity, he's still a child. Any responsible adult would see that; it's revealed in blinking neon when he confesses a yearning desire to go to Disney World. Instead of being a positive influence in the life of a youth with great potential, Elaine is thinking only of herself.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 29, 2005
Format: DVD
If three can play at love, and if that love is an equilateral triangle, then each of the three is equally responsible for the ramifications. Were that the case in this little low budget Indie film BOOK OF LOVE the story would have more resonance. But art imitates life and life is full of contradictions and double standards and that is what seems to writer/director Alan Brown seems out to show us.

David (Simon Baker) is a popular history teacher in a private girl's school in New Jersey and is blissfully married to Elaine (Frances O'Connor) who is an Events Planner and thrives on her time with her husband, wanting to delay having children for 'at least ten years' in lieu of an exciting marital sex life. Into this radiantly alive couple's life enters a young fifteen-year-old highschool student and swimmer Chet (Gregory Smith) who happens to meet them in an ice cream parlour and immediately feels a warmth for the two of them. The feeling is mutual, especially and David and Elaine learn that Chet has no strong family ties, has never even been into Manhattan much less to Disney World, a place Chet covets.

David and Elaine invite Chet into their home and lives, dining with him, taking him to a club in Manhattan (a place where Elaine takes the stage to sing with her lesbian friend entertainer), involving him in talks about Cambodian history and philosophy, etc. As an aside, their lesbian couple friends approach David to be the sperm donor for a child and Elaine and David agree to their request. David, Elaine and Chet appear to be a most happy trio until Chet makes physical advances to Elaine, advances which Elaine initially gently rebuffs but simultaneously feels awakened sensual responses to this young virginal lad.
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Topic From this Discussion
who sings "the book of love" in this movie?
magnetic fields is the band
Jul 15, 2009 by Joshua Goyeau |  See all 2 posts
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