EARLY PRE-RELEASE REVIEW: No Strings Attached — Orion’s Take
No Strings Attached is a clever, sexy, and hilarious romp of a film. Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman fairly sizzle on the screen, their easy chemistry adding to the story’s charm. Despite a fairly standard plot set-up and denouement this is not just another chick-flit rom-com. The story spans over a decade and has a lot of quirky characters to boot. I just wish the ending wasn’t so stupidly predictable.
Ashton Kutcher is Adam, the son of a famous actor who is struggling to get his TV writing career off of the ground without relying on his father’s influence. Adam has several encounters with a certain girl named Emma (Natalie Portman) who expresses her problems with emotional encounters. Soon enough they get into a sex-filled relationship without any strings, and that’s when the trouble starts. Emma can’t handle the emotions, Adam can’t handle the lack of emotions, and damnit, they can’t stand that in each other so they got to break up. But wait! They were never together so it doesn’t count as a break-up.
Natalie Portman, coming off a wonderful performance as Nina in Black Swan, shows the depth of emotion available to her. It’s impressive to see such a spunky and funny characterization come out of someone who in another movie plays a weak and sexually repressed ballet dancer. And she is wonderfully sexy in a film that demands that sexiness, seemingly without trying. Ashton Kutcher is just along for the ride, perhaps, but that’s nothing to be ashamed of. The sex is less sexy than the date scenes with Natalie Portman perhaps because it’s so awkward. We don’t really get the flame here that teases us in the sly smiles the two leads exchange. Also notable is Kevin Kline, who is incredibly funny as Adam’s father.
This movie has its fair share of problems. The characters other than Adam and Emma, while quirky, never really get developed. Though some scenes are genuine and endearing, others come off as hammy and overwrought. The jokes are funny and keep coming, but they don’t cut deeper than the surface, and are used like frosting to hide the holes in this film. Yet I couldn’t help but be charmed by this film: there was just something about Natalie Portman’s smile that entranced me, some quirk in Ashton Kutcher’s expression that made me laugh. It’s these two characters that carry the film, for better or for worse. We could certainly do much worse.