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Book of Love

3.1 out of 5 stars 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.

Amazon.com

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: #83,825 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Book of Love" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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It's hard to write about Alan Brown's movies. I've seen them all. Each is different, but somehow the same. This is his first full length feature. Apparently he starts with a basic concept and makes the movies on the fly. With very, very little money. They all have political comment embedded. In this one he takes a couple that have been married just long enough for the initial romance to start to wear off. They still love each other, but are beginning to be a little bored and cast about for diversion. The critical moment is when they stop in at an ice cream bar and meet Chet, the most beautiful, winsome soda jerk in the world. Elaine and David both like him, but Elaine is smitten, and Chet can tell. Elaine and David invite Chet over for dinner, and things quickly spiral out of control.

Without giving away the whole plot, I'll just say that some where near the end Brown loses focus. He is very good at showing complex interpersonal relationships, but here the plot just runs out of steam, and the ending is not only confusing, but completely unsatisfactory. Maybe the money ran out. Maybe he lost motivation. The political content has absolutely nothing to do with the plot. It is a condemnation of the US continued use of land mines and the horrific consequences. It is sort of just tacked on. He does much better with his next films.
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This is a rather heart breaking love story about a married woman, age 28, having sex with a 15-year-old dorky kid. It devastates her husband, who is a great guy by any standard. The marriage falls apart and the three go their separate ways. Simon Baker is the husband and no one does heartbreak angst like he does. Just about tears your heart out. He is the only one I had sympathy for. The kid was just a dumb 15-year-old, so you can't expect much judgment from him. The wife was, in my opinion, despicable. All she could worry about was whether her husband still loved her. Not a hint of being sorry for the hurt she caused him. In the end she was the only one who seemed quite happy with how it turned out. Frankly, her husband was well rid of her, although he didn't realize it at the time.
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I appreciated the story even though it was terribly sad. Simon Baker is an excellent actor. It shows us what the results can be when one makes damaging choices in life. Sometimes there is just no fixing things even when one wants to badly.
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This is a movie about vapid and boring people. Long pauses, empty conversation and an awful folk music soundtrack substitute for any real acting or chemistry. Their obsession with Cambodia and its "beautiful" people merely indicates their own emptiness as privileged emotional tourists. The truly dramatic piece of dialogue, when the wife would actually tell the husband "I cheated on you with a 16 year old kid", is skipped. Then for some reason the "tortured" husband decides to take his competitor, the 16 year old kid, to Disneyland? Why? Was he motivated by a forgiving impulse, or did he plan to humiliate and pick a fight with the kid? I thought the fight was accidental, but other reviewers think that was his plan all along.
I was actually hoping the 3 of these folks would have a menage a trois. That might have at least had the appeal of being unusual. But these folks are too cardboard for anything so unconventional. Instead of showing any emotions, all they do is stand around and brood while lame alternative music plays in the background. . We never see what happens to the kid. In fact there is no real resolution at all. The couple does not get back together, the kid fades away, and it all just segues into another burst of angsty folk music. I think this movie must have been written by a 16-year old who is trying to express the futility and meaninglessness of life. Well, he did a good job as far as this movie.
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