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April 24, 2015

A Case of You

by Franz Patrick


Case of You, A (2013)
★ / ★★★★

After an encounter with a former girlfriend, Sam (Justin Long), is made too aware that he is alone and, worse, lonely. Though he makes a living being a writer, he is not happy with being told what to write. Inspiration comes in a form of Birdie (Evan Rachel Wood), a barista that Sam meets every morning but never really had the chance to converse with in a meaningful way. When she gets fired for being consistently late for work, a former co-worker (Peter Dinklage) suggests that Sam look her up on Facebook. Sam finds Birdie online but instead of contacting her right away, he devises a plan: he will learn to like what she likes and so when they do meet eventually, there is instant connection.

“A Case of You” is a compilation of missed opportunities. The premise has the potential to speak to a lot of people but the screenplay by Justin Long, Christian Long, and Keir O’Donnell is content with riding the wheel’s whim instead of reinventing it. As a result, the picture is very much a shallow experience with a clear pattern divided in stages.

The first stage involves Sam obsessively checking Birdie’s online profile. I suppose we are supposed to be amused when the lead character reluctantly joins dance classes, music lessons, and other physically demanding activities. Once in a while he updates or consults his roommate, Eliot (O’Donnell), for advice. Rinse and repeat. There is a running joke involving Eliot’s masturbation ritual. Meanwhile, each succeeding scene becomes less entertaining. It gets to the point where Sam is just pathetic and creepy—those beady eyes absorbing every status update written by the girl of his dreams. The movie is not even halfway over.

The second stage comprises of Sam and Birdie finally meeting in person. There are supposedly romantic moments, hinted by the songs playing in the background as they go on various dates, but more discerning viewers ought not be tricked. After all, one of them is being tricked into thinking that a possible relationship is coming into fruition at some point. Since the root of what they have uses lies as nourishment, how is that romantic? I felt uneasy and I wanted someone to tell Birdie that the guy she is out with may look innocent and sweet but in reality, he reeks of desperation.

I like Long as an actor and he can be very funny given the right material but no amount of quirk can save his character because the writing has relied too much and too long on Sam being a stalker. Somehow either we are supposed to derive amusement out of what he goes through to get the girl or think that he is sweet for trying so hard to be impressive. The screenplay’s focus is on what he does instead of what he feels. One is universal and the other is not.

Directed by Kat Coiro, “A Case of You,” neither funny nor insightful about modern relationships, dares to be sentimental toward the end as if the emotions up to that point were earned. While the last scene is well-acted by the lead performers, it feels like the wrong ending considering the circumstances from a logical point of view. There is also a small twist during the last five minutes. It is supposed to be comforting on the surface but when one really thinks about it, it is but a final, pathetic attempt to come across as clever.

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