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Whether before sunrise or after midnight, Which Brings Me to You disappoints

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Photo courtesy of Decal
Photo courtesy of Decal


Which Brings Me to You isn't the first Before Sunrise clone I've ever seen, but it is undeniably the most recent. That's not so much a knock on the film as it is an all-too-obvious observation. What does stand in opposition to the romantic drama is that it's not especially romantic, and the drama is forced and obvious. It also does not help that stars Lucy Hale and Nat Wolff, both perfectly charming actors under normal circumstances, have absolutely zero chemistry. This is unsurprisingly a gigantic problem.

Pity, because some nice ideas are lurking inside the nooks and crannies of this endeavor, and director Peter Hutchings (The Hating Game) seems determined to examine them with introspective subtlety. Working from the novel by authors Julianna Baggott and Steve Almond, the screenplay by Keith Bunin (Nimona, Onward) refuses to bludgeon the viewer with didactic nonsense. This allows Hutchings to treat the audience with respect, assuming they'll be able to put together the majority of the metaphorical pieces of the complex, sometimes tragic backstories.

The main problem is that I never felt that protagonists Jane (Hale) and Will (Wolff) were actually falling for one another. After meeting at the bar during the wedding of a mutual friend (followed almost immediately by a disastrous almost-canoodling in an empty coatroom), the two spend the remainder of the day getting to know one another. During this friendly courtship, they candidly discuss their prior romances, almost all of which ended badly.

By the end of all this talk, the primary question will be whether or not Jane and Will realize that, for all of their amorous travails, they're perfect for one another. The thing is, I never felt that they were. But I never felt they were bad for one another, either. They just sort of existed in the same space. Telling stories. Talking about their pasts. Trying to make sense of how they've never been able to make a lasting connection. But finding what was missing while slipping into one another's arms? I never bought that at all, not for a second.

What's particularly unfortunate is when these individual tales of dissipated, undermined, or in some instances flat-out lost love do have resonating power. Will, in particular, has stories that ripped me apart, and that's a compliment. He has a relationship with bohemian flibbertigibbet Eve (Genevieve Angelson) that begins like a puerile juvenile fantasy but thankfully accelerates into something bitingly thoughtful.

Will's final liaison is with self-assured musician Audrey (a superb Britne Oldford). She sees through his indecisive crap and finds the man still searching for himself hidden within, and a life-changing event brings them closer than either thought possible. But it also cuts the romantic ribbon tying them together, and while they'll always be in one another's lives, each understands it shouldn't be as husband and wife.

Jane has her own amorous adventures, all of which end in failure too, but they're nowhere near as interesting or as emotionally insightful as Will's. Still, Hale is excellent, especially in a subplot she shares with John Gallagher Jr. He plays a famous writer who is teaching one of Jane's college literature classes, and it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out what happens next. But depression and paranoia take hold, and what transpires between them starts Jane down a lonely path that leads only to heartbreak.

That Hale and Wolff are so good whenever they are not in one another's company makes it all the more unfortunate they're so bland when they are. What's worse, their conversations are the focal point for this drama, so it's well over half the 99-minute running time that they're together. Even when one is ripping off the other's clothes in the coatroom, the passion generated wouldn't fill an empty thimble.

Which Brings Me to You isn't worth watching before sunrise, and it certainly doesn't warrant any attention before sunset, either. When midnight did fall, it didn't matter to me if Jane and Will kissed on the beach or instead drove off in opposite directions, never to lay eyes on one another again.