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Posted on the 03 December 2023 by Sirmac2 @macthemovieguy

Where I Watched It: Apple Plus

English Audio Description?: Yes

What a talented cast assembled of “next gen” legends in the making. Jessie Buckley already has an Oscar nomination to her name, and came close last year by being in the ensemble of Best Picture nominee Women Talking. Riz Ahmed has been on the rise for years, and secured his Oscar nomination with a powerful performance in Sound Of Metal. Jeremy Allen White is the front runner to win the Emmy this year for his work on The Bear, and is getting Oscar buzz for another film this year, A24’s The Ironn Claw. And Luke Wilson, while he hasn’t landed significant recognition, has been working for almost three decades on screen. So, why doesn’t this film work?

Conceptually, the idea that there’s a definitive way to prove you are a match for someone is an interesting premise. The problem is that this film tries to do something else with it, instead of just trusting in the concept. Like Alexander Payne’s Downsizing, which works best when it is exploring the quirky idea of choosing to Downsize, and what that means, it’s that first half where the movie is strongest, but when Payne starts to deviate, it starts to wobble a bit because it becomes no longer focused on the thing that makes it interesting.

Here, we get glimpses of how this test effects the world, as some couples immediately divorce after failing the test, though not legally required to do so, while others don’t want to take the test. This is where the movies strength lies is in the debate over whether such a test is necessary, and diving into the weeds about various philosophical reasons why one may or may not want to do this. It certainly could have a lot to say about love, relationships, and our expectation that we all have that one person out there meant for us. instead, it gets lost in a story about a woman (Buckley) who feels unfulfilled somehow, even though her test was positive, and decides she needs to work for the testing center to better understand how this works.

This could have been enough. Buckley could have teamed up with Wilson’s character, who heads the program, and seen a variety of couples coming in and out for various reasons, all with different results. This could have brought her closure, but the film decides that philosophical conversations are not what we need, and instead introduces another worker at the facility (White) for her to fall for. Can she match with two people? What would that even mean? Even in that premise, it never feels like that is what the director is trying to get the audience to ask themselves. This always feels like a film about a woman unfulfilled that is looking for a reason to leave her husband and give her peace so she can start a presumably more interesting life.

Taking a film that has so much potential, with such an interesting premise about what makes a relationship work, about what constitutes love, and whether or not we can truly define it by any test… even one that costs you a fingernail, could be such an interesting film. And with the aforementioned cassst, it felt like the kind of ensemble shaping up to really have that discussion. The film just isn’t nuanced enough, and chooses the blandest way of telling this story, while almost complaining about a bland life. Look inward next time guys.

The audio description here is fine, but despite a trailer that would have you believe this film is a lot weirder than it actually is, with the promise of perhaps some madcap shenanigans to dive into, it’s just a slow relationship drama that could have been, and should have been much better. I’ve seen worse films this year, absolutely. but seeing what this film could have been, and imagining where more talented screenwriters and directors would have taken this premise and cast, really makes this the most disappointing film of 2023. That’s probably even worse than being at the bottom. it’s one thing to make someone you care about mad at you for something, but to have that feeling that you let them down… well… those are the complicated thoughts this film just didn’t want to have.

Final Grade: C-

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