Thursday, March 22, 2012

Female scientist experiments with love in unconventional chick flick

By Alison Haywood, Copy Editor

Actress Miranda Kent proves in the film Losing Control that you don’t need to be a ditsy blonde to make a good romantic comedy.

poster_11_14_hresIt’s rare to see a Hollywood rom com with a complex plot and distinctive characters, which is why it’s no surprise that Losing Control comes from an independent film company.

Little-known actress Miranda Kent (Campus Ladies, In & Out) plays Sam, the lead character who is not the stereotypical ditzy blonde pursuing hookups with the hunky guy next door, but rather a Harvard grad student putting her long-term lover second to a series of scientific experiments.

When Sam’s boyfriend Ben, played by Reid Scott (The Big C, All My Children) proposes marriage, she is unable to accept before establishing empirical proof that he is indeed her true love. What follows is a series of wacky dates with different men while she struggles to find a “control group” with which to compare him. But when Ben accepts a fellowship to research in China, it may be too late for Sam to get him back.

Paralleling this plot is Sam’s struggle to reproduce a scientific experiment she has been working on for the past four years, when she discovered a protein that could prevent genetic disorders by killing Y-chromosomes.

She is constantly ditching lovers to run back to the lab, and at one point actually brings a date to the workplace, an event that ends disastrously.

The two plots are brought together at the end in a surprise twist that ties up all the loose ends and makes sense of seemingly-irrelevant details.

Uncharacteristic of a typical chick flick, I thought the added drama and suspense made the film more interesting.

The pacing was good overall and kept me engaged, but the ending was a bit abrupt as the film lasted only 90 minutes.

Although the cast of Losing Control was mostly unknown, the acting was spot-on. Sam was realistic and relatable despite her neurotic tendencies and supporting roles were quirky and distinct.

I did not, however, like the one-dimensional nature of the “other lovers,” most of whom served merely as placeholders and contrasts to Ben. Their exaggerated personalities made them unbelievable, albeit hilarious.

The poorest executed contrast was Sam’s best friend Leslie, played by Kathleen Robertson (Scary Movie, Beverly Hills 90210). Although the laid-back, promiscuous woman was meant to serve as a foil to neurotic and uptight Sam, there was nothing to suggest how these polar opposites could have become friends, and we learned nothing about her character.

I was pleased to see a strong, smart female scientist in the lead role, loosely modeled after writer and director Valerie Weiss and her own experience as a Harvard PhD candidate before she became a filmmaker. My sense of social justice was disappointed, however, to see a clear use of stereotypes later in the film with Sam’s stingy Jewish parents and her Chinese lab assistant.

One of the film’s greatest highlights was the original soundtrack, composed by John Swihart.

The catchy, folksy music reminded me of the soundtracks to Juno or Amélie and the down-to-earth feel helped balance Sam’s neurotic nature.

The film contained great acting, plot and soundtrack. However, the supporting roles made the film its weakest link. For that, I give this film four stars.