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[rating: 2 of 4 stars]movie review by Gary Johnson

Go to:
the official web site for Addicted to Love

Addicted to Love is built around a great central premise--that a jilted lover would become so obsessed with his old girlfriend's new life that he would build a camera obscura so that he could watch her every move. He uses this complex, old-fashioned optical device made of lenses and mirrors to project life-size images of his old girlfriend and her new lover on his loft wall.


Movie poster for Addicted to Love.

Warner Brothers. All rights reserved.)

Designing this optical device comes as second nature to Sam (Matthew Broderick) because he's an astronomer, a great profession for this voyeur who would prefer to silently watch his old love than to fight for her affection. He meticulously and scientifically logs her every action while designing charts (such as "Mutual feeding activity") to describe the behavior that he sees.

As Sam stalks his old love, he discovers that someone else is also watching the love nest--a cynical biker/artist named Maggie (Meg Ryan), who seeks revenge on her ex-fiance: "I don't want him back," she snarls. "I want him vaporized." Sam and Maggie soon wind up spending all their time together, watching the flickering images from the camera obscura and cracking jokes as if they were part of an episode of MST3000.

The premise is fascinating but the execution frequently is a let down. At times the movie works beautifully, as when Sam stumbles across an abandoned loft with a great view into his old girlfriend's apartment. His lust to see what is happening between Linda (Kelly Preston) and her new lover, Anton (Tcheky Karyo), pushes him to climb the crumbling staircases of the dilapidated old building. As he sees Linda, he doesn't notice the danger he's in. He continues climbing the stairs so that he can improve his view--even with the staircase threatening to buckle beneath his feet.

Meg Ryan and Matthew Broderick.

Warner Brothers. All rights reserved.)

However, the success or failure of the movie largely rests in the casting of Matthew Broderick and Meg Ryan in the leads. While Broderick and Ryan are charming performers, they don't necessarily fit these roles (even though the roles were largely created with them in mind). Broderick never really becomes convincing as an obsessed, jilted lover and Ryan gives her character a case of terminal cuteness that's at odds with the character's bitter, sarcastic attitude. Both Broderick and Ryan are playing characters who take some despicable measures to get what they want. They practically destroy the life of Anton. He loses his restaurant, breaks his arms, gets a terrible rash, etc.

Meg Ryan doing a little spying in Addicted to Love.

(©1997 Warner Brothers. All rights reserved.)

So to make sure we always like Sam and Maggie, we're given the infinitely likable Broderick and Ryan. Therefore, we can forgive and laugh at their obsessive and mean behavior. But these casting choices also have the effect of robbing the movie of its weight. The comedy becomes super lightweight and inconsequential. And that's a shame because the material is here for a fascinating and hilariously dark comedy.

The director, Griffin Dunne, who previously starred in Martin Scorsese's After Hours, has had experience with black comedy, but in Addicted to Love the comedy always remains relatively mild and innocuous, even while it's being vicious (no easy feat). Kelly Preston isn't given much to do except look lovely. But Tcheky Karyo as her French lover is the real find here. (He also starred in La Femme Nikita and Goldeneye.) He almost single-handedly saves this movie with an exuberant, earthy performance, while revealing a strong flair for physical comedy.

Robert Gordon's screenplay is also excellent. He has written a wonderfully engaging story of voyeurism and obsession, while cinematographer Andrew Dunn (who also photographed The Crucible and Madness of King George) delivers some incredible images. Addicted to Love is a marvelously designed movie that feels like a near miss, the kind of movie that might have become a great black comedy--with a few different casting choices.

Addicted to Love Web site

Warner Brothers Web site

A Warner Brothers Presentation


MaggieMeg Ryan
SamMatthew Broderick
LindaKelly Preston
AntonTcheky Karyo
NanaMaureen Stapleton
Directed byGriffin Dunne
Produced byJeffrey Silver
Screenplay byRobert Gordon
Director of PhotographyAndrew Dunn
Production DesignerRobin Standefer
Score byRachel Portman
EditorElizabeth Kling
Co-ProducerCaroline Baron
Johanna Demetrakas
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