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:: A Place For Me (aka Stuck in Love)

Too often debut directors indulge themselves in the autobiographical, egotistically mistaking their own existential banality for something distinct and insightful. Indie films are by far the greatest proponents of such self-indulgent fodder, so it was with a jaded scepticism that I approached A Place For Me. Thankfully, however, first-time writer-director Josh Boone transcends the autobiographical drama’s lacklustre brethren into something far more universal, crystalising itself as a beautifully crafted affirmation of love on all levels.

William Borgens (Greg Kinnear) is an acclaimed author who hasn’t written a word since his ex-wife, Erica (Jennifer Connelly), left him 3 years ago for another man. William has been left to raise their teenage son, Rusty (Nat Wolff), an avid Stephen King fan who is discovering love for the first time with the troubled Kate (Liana Liberato). Rusty’s sister, Samantha (Lily Collins), however is determined to avoid love at all costs, and has comfortably locked into a cycle of casual sex. She is also publishing her first novel as she meets the kind, caring Lou (Logan Lerman) who will stop at nothing to win her over.

A story like this will often, almost organically, dematerialise into a sickly-sweet perfume-cloud of sentiment, but Boone proves himself a craftsman, delivering a sensitive, measured and intimate personal drama. It is a veritable treat when a writer-director fully utilises his duality of function, marrying the writer’s intimacy with the story and the director’s translation of tone through vision and performance. Boone’s directing style is in harmony with the story; a well-struck balance that allows the strong script space to breathe. He has also managed to evoke excellent performances.

The premise at a glance is simple—uninteresting even—and completely undersells the emotional complexity of the story. For the 96 minutes you are involved in Boone’s world, you will be taken through a comprehensive array of emotions all orbiting around the central theme of love. While the territory explored may be nothing groundbreaking, it is handled with patience, care and a heartfelt understanding that transcends the banal circumstances into something deeply affecting and infinitely relatable. There is an honesty of cause here: Boone doesn’t promise answers to the eternal enigma of the human heart, he is simply sharing his observations and experiences. It’s deeply personal yet universal, it’s philosophical without being dense, its sentimental without being excessive. This is modest, real filmmaking—a film whose sensitive, humanist sensibilities affirm the concept of the family unit and the diverse and enigmatic pangs of the human heart.

A Place for Me is a beautiful, life-affirming and rewarding personal drama. Its honesty is stirring, its emotion is real, its relatability is highly affective. While only May, A Place for Me could well be one of the dark horses of the year.