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Local university professor Harry Stevenson (Morgan Freeman) is on extended leave and spends much of his time at the coffee shop run by Bradley (Greg Kinnear), where he watches love make its mark on various town residents. Bradley is distraught when his wife Kathryn (Selma Blair) leaves him for another woman. He subsequently becomes involved with real estate agent Diana (Radha Mitchell), who unbeknownst to him is also having an affair with married man David (Billy Burke). Harry also watches Bradley's troubled employee Oscar (Toby Hemingway) falling in love-at-first-sight with beautiful Chloe (Alexa Davalos) with whom he shares his dreams. But Harry and his loving wife (Jane Alexander) have their own issues with which to deal, following the recent death of their son.

Review by Louise Keller:
Is love a trick? Or is love everything? This is one of the questions raised in this disarmingly moving film about love, relationships and secret lives. In his opening narration, Morgan Freeman's university professor muses how the Greek Gods invented love to keep themselves amused, but had to invent laughter 'so they could stand it.' Freeman is the pivot of the story in which various interconnected characters living in a close-knit community in Portland, Oregon, begin and end relationships as they fall in and out of love.

Director Robert Benton is no stranger to sensitive handling of issues that deal with the heart. The director of Kramer Vs Kramer and The Human Stain also wrote the acclaimed Bonnie and Clyde and Places in the Heart. Based on Charles Baxter's novel and adapted by Alison Burnett, Benton directs the various strands with plenty of heart. There's Greg Kinnear's blindly trusting romantic Bradley, at whose coffee shop Freeman's Professor Harry Stevenson is a regular, observing the emotional interplay between the people around him. 'The end is always right there from the beginning,' Harry tells Bradley after he watches Bradley's wife of six years Kathryn (Selma Blair) fall in love with a woman under his very eyes. Kinnear is good at these roles - he can play charming but vulnerable, seemingly without trying. Radha Mitchell is a stand out as the pushy real estate agent who can't give up her married lover, and the relationship between former addict Oscar (Toby Hemingway) and Alexa Davalos' sensitive Chloe that begins through the coffee shop window, takes an unexpected turn. Most involving is the relationship between Freeman's Harry and his wife (Jane Alexander), which makes all the relationships around it seem trivial.

There's a surprising amount of nudity that aptly describes the frequent and unexpected intimacies. It's as though we get under the skin of each of the characters as they dream about and aspire to compatibility, understanding and romance. Although the story strands finally come together a little too neatly, it's an involving and moving film that deals with those sublime matters of the heart. After all, trick or treat, love makes life interesting.

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(US, 2007)

CAST: Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear, Radha Mitchell, Billy Burke, Selma Blair, Alexa Davolos, Toby Hemingway, Stana Ktic, Erika Marozsan

PRODUCER: Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Richard S. Wright

DIRECTOR: Robert Benton

SCRIPT: Alison Burnett (novel by Charles Baxter)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Kramer Morgenthau

EDITOR: Andrew Mondshein

MUSIC: Stephen Trask


RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 28, 2008

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