I really like Alison Brie as an actress but it seems as if only television has been able to show what she’s capable of for her career on film is filled either with mediocity (Scream 4, How to Be Single, The Kings of Summer) and some outright terrible entries (The Five-Year Engagement, Get Hard, Get a Job). Sadly, this might very well be the worst of the bunch. As a fan of her work on Community, Mad Men, and BoJack Horseman, it saddens me that her output on film has been less than impressive. Something tells me that No Stranger than Love is a film tailor-made to irritate me as much as it did, for otherwise I just see no point to its existence.
There’s a quirkiness coming about from the atmosphere, perfectly setting up what I absolutely loathe when watching these sorts of films. Given the fact I am not really the kind of person who would say they are a fan of quirky cinema outside of Wes Anderson, there’s one root that would inspire such vitriol from myself. One film that perfectly sums up my dislike for quirky cinema is Marc Webb’s (500) Days of Summer, which felt so proud of how quirky it was to the degree it only became an irksome experience. No Stranger than Love decides to mix a poor imitator of Wes Anderson with the annoying tendency to show off from (500) Days of Summer and the results are no different from what I would have expected from a mix between the two: something that is trying to disguise itself by attempting to imitate a visual style I enjoy with what is typical of these quirky comedies.
It is already stupid enough trying to go into details regarding the plot, which stars Alison Brie as an art teacher that women want to be and all men want. From the description of that alone, I could not help myself but feel uncomfortable the whole time that Brie’s character would be fine with a lengthy sequence which shows the citizens of the town where she lives in bombarding her to the point of harassment. She settles for one man, Colin Hanks, who is trying to convince her to love him back, and soon he ends up falling into a wormhole and for the next seventy minutes or so, Brie is searching for a way to get him out. Even if it were an idea for a short film, I still find such a concept to be utterly baffling to even remotely tell a story with, because it falls into a sea of nothingness rather fast, wasting the narrative.
What I get about the film’s goal is that it is trying to say that people do not have a proper understanding of love and where my issues come in arise from how No Stranger than Love has the guts to render itself pointless by saying that nothing matters at all. It’s rather sad because this could call itself for a much more interesting exploration of the misunderstanding of the concept of love, but the film wastes its time by shouting loudly without having any distinct aim. It became clear that the film just had absolutely nothing to say about anyone or anything, it just relied so much on the annoying quirks and even outright ignores the perceived message which it wants to share. It was clear right there where I hated No Stranger than Love, it is such a terribly misguided experiment that manages to succumb down to ignorance.
The faults at hand come from the screenplay, which limits the entire cast which it has assembled. You can listen to Alison Brie attempt to carry her own likable charm but it cannot raise what already is evident as clunky dialogue together with a structure that does not care for its narrative. For after it establishes an aim within the first few minutes, it simply tosses all of that away in favour of relying on the quirks that debut filmmaker Nick Wernham tries to incorporate, whether it be from the bizarre premise or the faux-Wes Anderson visual style. Credit is due for how Alison Brie and Nick Wernham are trying to work with such an awful script but unfortunately their voices are muted.
Probably the most baffling thing about No Stranger than Love is just why it was made. It wants to make some sort of statement about how misunderstood the concept of love is, but its delivery succumbs to an over-reliance on annoying quirkiness and within no time, it forgets what it is even about (as if it even had anything more to establish after Colin Hanks fell down the hole). This is a downright unlikable and outright harmful film that only leaves me angrier upon thought, in all the ignorance it shows regarding its message and the overall structure. The moment I finished up, I wanted to push No Stranger than Love down the hole where Colin Hanks fell, only to leave it there and never bring it back up. It belongs there for insulting the audience in its own lack of care for both a narrative and a message.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Orion.
Directed by Nick Wernham
Screenplay by Steve Adams
Produced by Paul Fler
Starring Alison Brie, Justin Chatwin, Colin Hanks, Dylan Everett
Release Year: 2015
Running Time: 89 minutes