Rom-com Entanglement tries way too hard to surprise us

Story about a depressed guy who’s rescued by a manic pixie dream girl is poisoned by its own cleverness

ENTANGLEMENT (Jason James). 85 minutes. Opens Friday (February 9). See listing. Rating: NN

I really wanted to like Entanglement. Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch and The Good Wife’s Jess Weixler in a romantic comedy about a depressive man rescued by a manic pixie dream girl who’s too good to be true? Bring it on!

And for a little while, at least – before it’s poisoned by its own cleverness – Entanglement spins a sweet, odd romance. Middleditch plays Ben, a depressed guy whose life dramatically improves when he becomes obsessed with finding the (now-grown) child his parents tried to adopt before he was born. 

If he’d had a sister, Ben reasons, he might have grown up with the emotional support his parents denied him and become a better-adjusted person. It’s a bit of a reach, but as Ben is recovering from a suicide attempt, his neighbour Tabitha (Diana Bang) is willing to help him on this quest.

Eventually, Ben finds Hanna (Jess Weixler), an impulsive, vivacious young woman who shows him how to enjoy life again. It’s a relationship straight out of a romantic comedy and the movie goes in hard on the affected whimsy and cockeyed charm required to sell it.

Which, again, would be okay if director James and screenwriter Jason Filiatrault weren’t structuring the whole thing towards a big reveal that not only invalidates Ben’s hard-earned growth, but is ultimately insulting to an audience that’ll see said reveal coming from miles away. 

It’s also utterly unnecessary: Entanglement would work just fine without it, and given how much complexity and charm Weixler puts into Hanna it might have been a more honest movie about desire and truth and timing. 

Instead, it’s so intent on surprising us that it runs straight into a conceptual brick wall.

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