It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Love and Other Catastrophes'' is one of those first films that makes you long for the second one. Shot in 17 days on lunch money, it's a campus comedy about love, roommates, professors, sex, and paying your overdue library fine so you can switch departments. There's a lot of potential charm here, but the director, Emma-Kate Croghan, is so distracted by stylistic quirks that the characters are forever being upstaged by the shots they're in.
The movie has been described as a Generation X film from Australia, although most of the students seem young enough to belong to that unnamed generation that has come along since X. True Xers, I think are now 30ish, and if you're 20ish you'd no more want to be described as an Xer than a hippie would want to be called a beatnik. Time flies; the generational nicknames ought to keep up with it.
The film's central characters are two roommates: Mia (Frances O'Connor), a lesbian who's breaking up with her girlfriend, and Alice (Alice Garner), who has a crush on one guy while another guy has a crush on her. The other potential romantic partners: Danni (Radha Mitchell), who in retaliation against Mia is seeing another woman; Ari (Matthew Dyktynski), the sort of playboy who Alice likes, and Michael (Matt Day), shy and inarticulate, who is in love with Alice.
All of these people are, of course, terminally cool about their sexuality. That's too bad, because a little uncertainty and doubt can make a great contribution to a comedy (see Kevin Smith's forthcoming "Chasing Amy," in which the hero's discovery that the girl he loves is a lesbian leads to inspired dialogue and deeply heartfelt misunderstandings). To put it another way, the characters in "Love and Other Catastrophes'' don't seem *needy* enough to require a movie about them; they're self-contained as they are.