It seems a little early for Christmas films, doesn’t it? I’m not partial to family dramas or holiday films. But this week it was either Love the Coopers or The 33, and I was simply not prepared to watch trapped Chilean miners for 2 hours. Still, I have to say I had a great time. Maybe I was tired, maybe I’m a sentimentalist at heart (despite all evidence) but I loved this movie and was glad I went to see it.
When four generations of the Cooper clan come together for their annual Christmas Eve celebration, a series of unexpected visitors and unlikely events turn the night upside down, leading them all toward a surprising rediscovery of family bonds and the spirit of the holiday.
What stands out about this movie is the cast. Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Marisa Tomei, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin – how could you go wrong? And every last one of them gave a stellar performance (as one would expect). The script was really good, the dialogue was well written but it was the delivery that got me. Love the Coopers is such a study of characters so the decision to make casting the priority was a good one.
I can’t remember who said it, but someone smart said that video games only had 30 seconds of actual fun. There’d be this 30 second period that is simply a joy to play and the game would do it over and over. Halo, their example, this 30 seconds would be when you sneak around a group of aliens, snipe off the big one, lob in a grenade in the middle of the rest and then charge in guns blazing. Anyway, I’m wondering if the 30 seconds rule could apply to movies because this film had one thing that it did really well and it did it over and over again. This film was adept at showing characters being emotionally cut to the quick. It happened in different ways with different results but every character would have this moment where something slipped through their emotional armor and we’d see the completely vulnerable. When that happened, every time, I felt like I knew them.
Funny, looking back at the events in this film, it seemed a little contrived. People don’t actually act this way and certainly not all on one day (even if it’s Christmas). I have to tell you though, it felt true. Every moment was believable even if I can’t remember ever seeing anything like that happening. But art is not the same as life. It should feel the same but life is boring in a way art can’t afford to be. Love the Coopers’ character’s actions may not have been completely realistic but the problems they faced, their various dilemmas, were absolutely real to life and deftly portrayed.
Director Jessie Nelson has an unbelievable eye for detail. I want to go back and see this again (though who knows if I will) just to see all the little things done right. I want to see a character’s thoughts revealed by what they’re doing with their hands, or how someone answers a question by not answering it. There was a moment where a picture was passed around, everyone in the scene who saw it reacted to it but then after that, they actually showed the picture. That’s rare and good.
Should you see this? Yes. But not now, it’s too early. See it with the family at Christmas, maybe. It is a little sweet so be prepared to come down from an emotional sugar high a few hours later, but it’s definitely worth the watch.
Rating: [Click Below to Enlarge]