Meewella | Critic

According to P

Tag: Alex Lehmann

QuickView: Meet Cute (2022)

“It’s okay for things to be messy sometimes.”


Perhaps writer Noga Pnueli was giving herself permission for the messy blend of ideas in Meet Cute, which is likely to be mistaken for a romcom — particularly with Kaley Cuoco and Pete Davidson in lead roles — when it is really a high concept drama using time travel as a mechanic to explore issues in a similar way to Richard Curtis’ endearing About Time. Sheila is obsessed with reliving the same chance meeting and first date over and over, despite the apparent futility of never experiencing the rest of the relationship. This serves as multiple metaphors over the course of the film: firstly, how familiarity breeds contempt in a relationship; and secondly, how despair can drive us toward the safety of the familiar at the expense of growth. This mental health angle is the film’s most novel idea but it is also the most weakly developed. Meet Cute’s time travel is forgivably broken since it is never treated seriously — the tanning bed gives Hot Tub Time Machine competition for dumbest vessel. The insurmountable issue is that its two leads both bring considerable charm to the screen but lack any chemistry with one another, particularly by comparison to Lehmann’s previous connection drama in Blue Jay. Without audience investment in the relationship, Meet Cute lacks a solid foundation on which the rest of its ideas can build — it’s okay for things to be messy sometimes, but only okay.


QuickView: Blue Jay (2016)

Blue Jay

“There’s nothing wrong with my life. I should be happy. But there’s this sadness… and I don’t know where it comes from.”


For many years I have described my favourite genre as the “connection genre”, a subset of which is “reconnection”. Blue Jay is a gentle black-and-white indie drama in which childhood sweethearts run into each other by chance twenty years later and spend some time reconnecting. The performances are critical with just two actors: Mark Duplass (who also wrote the script) and Sarah Paulson (who is exceptional). Blue Jay captures the casual intimacy and understanding between former lovers who knew each other so well, in addition to the ease — and underlying danger — of falling back into those patterns through nostalgia. Although the film feels largely romantic in nature, heartbreak is an ever-present threat. The believable, endearing chemistry between the leads is aided by improvisation around a loosely outlined script, allowing the actors to react naturalistically to one another. My only real criticism is a revelation late in the film which feels unnecessary and somewhat undermines the universality of much of what came before.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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