Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Jennifer Aniston, Dan Fogler, Martin Sheen
Directed by: Brandon Camp
Before you quickly hit the back button on your internet browser, here’s a disclaimer: The commercials you have seen for “Love Happens” are actually quite deceiving. To me, the movie is neither a “chick-flick” nor a romantic comedy. In fact, it’s not really comedic at all (save a few scenes). The film deals with a lot of heavy subjects and actually has a much deeper message than one would be led to believe. After watching it, I walked away pleasantly surprised. I would hope other movie goers would be willing to give it a chance, as well.
Burke Ryan is a “self-motivator.” He wrote a book, entitled “A-Okay,” to help him cope with the death of his wife. He holds seminars across the country and teaches other people how to deal with the deaths of their loved ones. He’s positive, he’s encouraging, and he addresses fears that many people don’t want to face. Only thing is: Burke isn’t acting out that positivity in his own life. He drinks excessively to numb the pain, he closes himself off to other people, and he doesn’t seem to fully believe in the “self-help” methods that he created. In short – he’s living a lie.
“Love Happens” tells the story of Burke and his attempt to continually teach courses and talk with people while remaining a broken man. We learn that he never recovered from his wife’s death and that is affecting him in so many ways. Enter Eloise. She’s a florist who regularly drops off flower arrangements at the hotel that Burke happens to be staying at while teaching a seminar in Seattle. He spots her and after an awkward couple of conversations, the two have dinner. Burke admits to Eloise that he hasn’t been on a date in over three years and Eloise is quick to forgive his “rustiness” and begins a friendship with him. The two spend quite some time together, but in spite of Eloise’s efforts, Burke is still closing himself off and hiding the “real him” underneath.
The movie has a happy ending, don’t worry, but the journey to get there is filled with some painful moments. The moral of the story, I believe, is that even if we act like we’re okay on the outside, we may still be broken on the inside. And the remedy to fix that is to start forgiving ourselves and believing that we can make it through. Not just pretending to. Burke eventually lets the walls down and allows Eloise to be there for him, just as he is there for so many of his students. When healing, we must also learn how to allow others to help us; Even if it’s a difficult thing to do.
“Love Happens” is rated PG-13 for language and some minor sexual references. However, it is pretty decent compared to most other movies that share the same rating. The most offensive part of the movie is when Burke’s agent, Lane Marshall, takes God’s name in vain a few times. Besides that, the film is relatively clean and as a breath of fresh air, Burke’s and Eloise’s relationship is kept pure. We simply see the two learn how to trust each other, amidst a lot of pain, and eventually fall in love.