Director: Jenée LaMarque
MPAA Rating: R
Film Pulse Score: 5/10
Socially awkward and homely Laurel always wanted to be like her twin sister Audrey. She’s confident, outgoing, stylish and independent and lives in the city. Laurel stays at home doting after their loving, widowed father. The two clearly have a tight bond and Audrey wants the best for her younger sister. While celebrating their birthday Audrey takes Laurel out for a makeover and really pushes her to become her own person. After insisting that Laurel move to the city with her tragedy strikes leaving one sister dead, the other with amnesia and a community in shock. Whilst preparing for her sister’s funeral, Audrey remembers who she really is, she’s Laurel. Instead of coming out with the truth Laurel decides to escape from her humdrum life and live in Audrey’s by becoming her.
That is the set up for this comedy/drama that has one particular crutch that despite the filmmakers’ best efforts is difficult to overcome. Our lead character pulls off an incredibly selfish, hurtful act that as a viewer, well for this one at least, you really don’t care much about her because she clearly doesn’t care about anyone else but herself. Since Laurel’s decision to take her sister’s identity happens early on in the film you are left with the rest of the film watching her sort out her life and her lie. Recent films like The Wolf of Wall Street or American Hustle featured characters that are deplorable or immoral yet you are still engaged in their escapades. However, here you are left watching someone lie about her own dead sister. That’s pretty low.
Zoe Kazan, recently seen in Ruby Sparks, portrays both Audrey and Laurel. She does a fine job of differentiating the two girls and is quite affective as Laurel. She is convincing in not only showing Laurel’s naivety and innocence but her lack of understanding of people, emotions and the world in general. Those characteristics lead to some saccharin moments between Laurel and the people who populated Audrey’s life. Jack Johnson also stars as Basel, Audrey’s duplex tenant who Laurel finds herself attracted to but of course he believes she’s Audrey, etc, etc. He’s okay in terms of being the romantic interest for the leading lady. Ron Livingston appears as Audrey’s boyfriend and John Carroll Lynch is the girls’ father Frank.
The film works when it follows Laurel discovering the life her sister had lead. She learns more and more about her sister every day she spends in her shoes. It would have been more interesting if they spent more time exploring how Laurel really wanted this for her life and if she would ultimately decide if this is where she wants to be. Which is where I thought it was heading. Instead it settles for the cute romantic-comedy route and when it gets back to following Laurel perpetrating her lie interest gradually wanes. Unfortunately when the truth is revealed it is resolved in an unconvincing happy ending.
Which is unfortunate since the audience should be celebrating that Laurel has come out of her shell and is ready to become her own woman. It’s just that what she put other people through to get there leaves one to shrug their shoulders and forget about her.