Catch and Release

Director: Susannah Grant

Fishing has always been a popular yet unlikely (albeit overly used) metaphor for romantic relationships-- whether it’s used in regards to finding a “catch” when you’re in love or being told that “there are other fish in the sea” while you’re nursing a broken heart. Therefore it’s only fitting for a film that encompasses both of these romantic states to use a fishing analogy for its title, especially when fishing it a hobby of the leading characters and two of the men run a bait shop in their Boulder, Colorado home. However, it’s even more interesting when the fishing film in question is written and directed by a woman-- Erin Brockovich’s Oscar nominated screenwriter Susannah Grant, who makes her debut as a feature film director with this story of Gray (Jennifer Garner), a young engaged woman whose fiancĂ© dies during his bachelor party right before the wedding. Forced to move out of the large and overpriced home she’d intended to share with her husband, Gray returns to the bachelor pad he’d shared with his three very different buddies: Dennis (Sam Jaeger) a sensitive man who has long loved Gray from afar, the eccentric and funny Sam (Kevin Smith) and irresponsible bad boy Fritz (Timothy Olyphant). As Gray tries to come to terms with the aftermath of the death and the feelings of grief and guilt associated with it, she begins to discover there were several things about her long-term love that she didn’t know, revealing some major secrets as other characters begin to appear in her Boulder community looking for the deceased. The film works well as a simple character piece and the actors all do fine work (especially the hilarious and scene stealing Smith who supplied his own wardrobe according to IMDB) but we long to know more about Gray who’s a bit underwritten as we begin questioning obvious things such as her family, exact career and other issues that should have at least been addressed so that she feels much more like a flesh and blood individual. Ultimately, we feel disappointed by the all too convenient ending that shortchanges the audience and her impulsive new romantic attachment with a character who, I believe most viewers would agree, was the wrong house roommate. Grant makes a noble attempt and like her best scripts—the aforementioned Brockovich and the adaptation of In Her Shoes for director Curtis Hanson, she’s at her best when tackling delicate human relationships and emotion but something about her debut feels a bit unfinished as if it was hurried in the editing room (with vital inclusions being left on the cutting room floor) or not given the proper time and budget needed to make the film work completely.