"The nail could actually cause her moments of wrath, rage and anger."
We all know about those rare films that are sent to the graveyard in their post-production and are never seen again. These films are often discarded before production can even begin, such as Tim Burton’s Superman Lives, but once in a while a film is made nearly in its entirety and due to either production issues or financial problems, they’re forgotten. But suppose for a moment, that a film made primarily in 2007 was then revived 8 years after the project began.
Alice (Jessica Biel) has a perfect life until a freak accident leaves her with periods of erratic behaviour. Her fiancé calls off her engagement and she loses her job, only to fall into the arms of congressman Howard Birdwell (Jake Gyllenhaal) and together they launch a campaign for healthcare reform.
This film started off as a David O Russel film called Nail that was supposed to serve as a satire of the modern health care system in America. Think along the lines of Silver Linings Playbook but for physical disadvantages rather than the psychological ones that Bradley Cooper suffered from in that movie. But of course production was postponed and despite the best efforts to revive the project and get it into theatres Russell eventually walked out in 2010 to focus on other projects, knowing that his doomed satire was probably best left to die by this point.
But studio executives disagreed and now the reanimated corpse of Russel’s film now titled Accidental Love is finally fit for viewing. Accept it isn’t because it’s horrible in every conceivable way. Russel dodged a bullet with this one, in fact I feel sorry for the director just because firstly his name is still loosely attached to the monstrosity and secondly to see a project that he must have cared about and been devoted to at some point, one that he knew well enough to abandon rather than try to force it to live on as a figment of what it could have been, had to see it turn into this.
Accidental Love is a mess of a film. Having been sewn together from various pieces of footage seven years ago right up to a few months prior to its release the stitches are clearly visible from a distance. Up close you can see that there are still gaping holes within both the story and character arcs as well as a plot that is completely and utterly unfathomable.
You want to get deep into the films messages and what it is trying to convey then fine. If it is trying to serve as a political satire then there are elements to suggest that it is making the best efforts to do so, there are ridiculous plot elements that may appear to be intended as a mockery of politicians, but when a device like that is then overlooked numerous times, treated as if it’s in normality and then undercut with terrible and heartless rom-com clichés, then it loses its impact slightly. And by slightly I mean totally, I mean like completely out the window of the Empire State Building.
What’s amazing is that the best performance of last year came from Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler (I don’t care what the Oscars say, it was) but here, wow he is either bored out of his mind or, given that it was seven years ago, he has to be the most improved actor in recent memory. One wonders of Russel was glad to be free of it as it looks as if it was doomed from that start.
Where’s Nightcrawler, where’s Silver Linings Playbook? Why does this film exist? These are questions that no one can really answer when watching Accidental Love.
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