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'Love & Sex': Call It Romantic

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 8, 2000


    'Trixie' Famke Jannsen portrays Kate Wells in a scene from Valerie Breiman's "Love and Sex" (Cass Bird/Lions Gate Films)
An endearing comic roundelay about the can't-commits, "Love & Sex" tracks the intermittent relationship between a couple of swinging Angelenos. Kate (Famke Janssen) is a glamorous magazine writer and Adam (Jon Favreau) an oy-is-me painter who have broken up even though it's clear they belong together.

The all-inclusive title aside, "Love & Sex" is a modest undertaking, albeit with more romantic insight and wit than many of its mainstream cousins. The movie has low-key tones and a slept-in style all its own, but it's essentially "When Harry Met Sally . . ." on a budget.

Janssen, a former model last seen in "X-Men," is cut from the same fine cloth as Sandra Bullock and Julia Roberts. She's attractive even when playing a romantic cynic like Kate. After submitting an article on oral sex, Kate is called on the carpet by her editor (Ann Magnuson). The topic isn't the problem; it's her hostile attitude toward the subject matter.

She's given 24 hours or else to finish a new story on the top 20 ways to make your relationship last. It's the other 19 that give Kate pause. Although she has had 14 affairs, she usually bails when the pheromones quit working and her infatuation subsides. She begins to reflect on her mostly ill-fated and funny past encounters, much like John Cusack's fickle hero in "High Fidelity."

Although her reveries include flings with her high school French teacher (try pronouncing "Mr. Bozard" with braces), a buff, pea-brained B-movie actor and an oily pop music executive, she always comes back to Adam (Favreau). Since the breakup, the two have remained best friends, and as with Harry and Sally, a night seldom goes by without one phoning the other.

The outcome of the movie--written and directed by the promising Valerie Breiman, a former actress--is never in doubt. But then it never is in 99.9 percent of romantic comedies. As long as the lovers belong together and end up that way, nothing else matters.

Granted, not everyone is going to appreciate the attraction between Kate and Adam, whom the dumplinglike Favreau portrays as a Woody Allenish noodge. Then again, look at the notches on Woody's bedpost.

Love & Sex (80 minutes, at area theaters) is rated R for profanity, sexual situations and adult themes.


© Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company

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