Going The Distance

Director    Nanette Burstein
Starring    Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate, Ron Livingston
Release    3 SEP (US) 10 SEP (UK)    Certificate 15
3 stars


12th September 2010

With Hollywood searching for new and exciting twists on the traditional romcom, Nanette Burstein's Going The Distance looks at the ins and outs of long-distance relationships. To the film's credit, it is accurate in its depictions of this type of relationship - as a man in one, I can vouch for the hardship of long distance love. However, the film itself is disappointingly run-of-the-mill and occasionally bores with its bog-standard presentation.

The main draw of Going The Distance is the two leads, Justin Long and Drew Barrymore. Their off-screen on/off relationship pays dividends here, helping portray a very realistic couple with real conviction - their chemistry sparks and helps cover up some of the story's internal cracks. They are, at least, a believable couple, which is a seemingly simple facet that many romantic comedies cannot get right.

[gallery]Long and Barrymore need to be on form, as their respective characters are fairly one-dimensional. Garrett (Long) is a man apparently enthralled by music, yet despite it being his one true love, it's only referenced to once, in passing. That's it as far as characterisation goes. It's the same deal with Erin (Barrymore), a journalist desperate for a career writing front page stories, only she never talks about it. It often seems like the film hinges on the personalities of the actors, not their characters. Nevertheless, they receive decent support from the pre-requisite best friends, with Jason Sudekis, a regular SNL-er and 30 Rock-er, gaining most credit for his awesome facial hair.

The problem is that, in attempting something different, Going The Distance is guilty of trying a little too hard. The indie-kid music (The Cure, The Boxer Rebellion etc.), the kooky obsessions and glossy cities of New York and San Francisco - it feels like it's trying to be something it's not. In this case, that's (500) Days Of Summer, but it lacks the imagination, the feel and the excess of personality which Marc Webb's meet-cute had in spades.

The trailers lured us in with the prospect of something different, and it looked to be a fun prospect. However, all the best bits were in the trailer and the film provides little entertainment in the gaps between these moments. Going The Distance needed to define itself more clearly: is it an outright comedy, or a drama with hints of humour? Its lack of identity does niggle, but doesn't detract too badly from the film's overall sheen of quality.

Overall, Going The Distance is not a bad film, just one that never quite fulfils its ambition. It's adequately shot and provides a glossy vantage point to affairs. If only it had dared to delve a little deeper, to present more raw emotion, use more imagination and use the talent a lot better... There's definite potential to carve a romcom niche. Instead, it's an entirely average film that will pass 100 minutes of anyone's life nicely, whether they're male or female.

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