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NO STRINGS ATTACHED

Trainee doctor Emma (Natalie Portman) and would-be TV sitcom writer Adam (Ashton Kutcher) have known each other for years, often running into each other at inopportune times. When Adam discovers his fatuous, former TV celebrity father Alvin (Kevin Kline) is sleeping with his former girlfriend Vanessa (Ophelia Lovibond), he wants to have a physical relationship with no strings. While Emma has many men trying to attract her attention, she is intent on being emotionally self-sufficient. But when Emma and Adam start spending more and more time together, the question arises whether it is possible to have an intimate relationship without real romantic commitment.

Review by Louise Keller:
The main appeal of this amiable romantic comedy is the unexpectedly appealing pairing of the diminutive Natalie Portman and the exceedingly tall Ashton Kutcher. Surprising mostly because the thrust of the film hinges on the physicality of things. In other words Ė sex. So chemistry is important and there are a few points of difference, including an off-beat tone to the characters that surround the central couple. While he manages the material efficiently, director Ivan Reitman now plays second fiddle to son Jason, whose films Thank You for Smoking and Up in the Air are a cut above this one, although as a date movie, No Strings will probably get the thumbs up.

After a couple of silly flashbacks in which we learn that Emma (Portman) and Adam (Kutcher) have crossed paths over the past 15 years (usually in embarrassing or unusual circumstances), we cut to the present to find Adam at a loss because his divorced, former TV celebrity Dad Alvin (Kevin Kline) is having an affair with Adamís partying British ex-girlfriend Vanessa (Ophelia Lovibond). Too much alcohol leaves Adam naked and embarrassed in an apartment filled with trainee doctors, which includes Emma, who has a reputation for being good at being alone. Sex follows. And a commitment between them to avoid a relationship but to have sex-on-call. In the next few scenes we see a lot of Portmanís underwear Ė blue, purple, pink, white. And itís all very pretty.

Emma and Adamís housemates are a lively bunch (a good supporting cast) and the interaction between all these characters give the film several layers that work in its favour. The dialogue is occasionally peppered with penis references and menstruation jokes (Adam gives Emma a Ďperiodí music mix that includes Sinatraís Iíve Got the World on a String) and there is both a gay and a lesbian subplot.

The central relationship travels its course with on-off elements and we are of course waiting for the moment that Emma and Adam discover and admit that they are attached and embrace the strings that tie them. I like the craziness of the moment when Adam brings Emma a congratulatory balloon to the hospital where she works after they have had sex for the first time and the scene in which the half naked lesbians give the wrong impression. Itís a romantic fantasy that takes flight Ė even if it doesnít soar.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

NO STRINGS ATTACHED (MA15+)
(US, 2010

CAST: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline, Cary Elwes, Greta Gerwig, Lake Bell

PRODUCER: Jeffrey Clifford, Joe Medjuck, Ivan Reitman

DIRECTOR: Ivan Reitman

SCRIPT: Elizabeth Meriwether (story by Michael Samonek & Elizabeth Meriwether)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Rogier Stoffers

EDITOR: Dana E. Glauberman

MUSIC: John Debney

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ida Random

RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 10, 2011







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