A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
“Sometimes things are better when they’re not perfect, you know?” Maisie Williams’ character wonders dreamily in the mawkish indie drama “The Book of Love.” If only that were true of the film itself.
The feature debut of director and co-writer Bill Purple does not feature a single authentic moment. Imperfect would actually be a step up. Filled with contrivances, false emotions and even flimsier accents, it strains mightily to tug at our heartstrings while also enticing us with whimsy, and fails on both fronts.
This is a movie that features not one but two Manic Pixie Dream Girls, albeit in different shades of glitter. Jessica Biel plays the first: a floppy hat-wearing, Jeep-driving, free spirit of an artist named Penny. Pregnant and playful in denim overalls, she’s the kind of person who throws out a pair of brown loafers belonging to her uptight architect husband, Henry (Jason Sudeikis), in favor of purple running shoes on the day he’s scheduled to give a potentially career-changing presentation. But she’s so adorably daffy, he doesn’t mind.
Williams plays the second: a feisty and foul-mouthed ragamuffin named Millie, an orphaned teen. With her ever-present dog, Ahab, at her side, Millie spends her days roaming the streets of New Orleans, rummaging through the trash for items she can use to build a raft and sail off to the Atlantic Ocean. She’s also busy providing the film with folksy, observational and heavily metaphorical voiceover, early and often. (Purple wrote the often cringe-inducing script with Robbie Pickering.)