Realistic but gets boring

Jeremy Allen White and Maika Monroe play a couple who pick up their lives after conquering an illness.
Jeremy Allen White and Maika Monroe play a couple who pick up their lives after conquering an illness.PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION



94 minutes/Opens today/ 3 stars

The story: Shortly after meeting the beautiful but enigmatic Mia (Maika Monroe), Elliot (Jeremy Allen White) discovers with a shock that he is suffering from a rare form of cancer.

Romance movies featuring terminal illnesses have become a popular genre of their own, what with the recent successes of films such as The Big Sick (2017) and The Fault In Our Stars (2014).

But as the title here suggests, this film has no interest in the typical melodrama that comes with how the romantic couple deal with the disease.

Rather, it is about what happens after the illness is conquered: Can the pair still make it when the single event that brought them together in the first place is no longer an issue? After everything that has happened, what comes next?

The answer that follows may be a predictable one, but it is also a realistic one.

There is, in fact, much to relate to when watching Elliot and Mia. From the way they speak to the way they carry themselves, they come off as such believable characters that you would probably know other people just like them.

These are flawed human beings, who get selfish and proud and annoying. But they also remain mostly likeable, thanks to solid performances from the relatively unknown leads.

White and Monroe, who demonstrate sizzling chemistry, are unfortunately too good for the script.

While there is much truth in the dialogue and characterisation, first-time feature film-makers Hannah Marks and Joey Power get the pacing all wrong.

The story is completely rushed through in the first half as the cancer threatens to tear the couple apart, before it slows to a snail's pace when they attempt to go on about their lives. If this is the directors' indirect way of telling viewers to learn to stop and smell the roses, it does not quite work.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2018, with the headline 'Realistic but gets boring'. Print Edition | Subscribe