There is certainly an argument to be had that we should strip a film of its wider context and merely appreciate the finished product that we see on the screen. But in David O. Russell’s Accidental Love, it’s the varying issues that took place in the making of this feature which infiltrate and inform the audience’s experience of the feature, as a completely misjudged, infuriatingly farcical endeavour, which is a complete shambles from start to finish. Which, as it turns out, is shadowing the haphazard filmmaking process that took place.
Beginning life in 2008, under the name Nailed, the financial difficulties often halted the production, and Russell departed the project in 2008 – even going so far as to disown it somewhat, because the directing title is under the pseudonym Stephen Greene. You can see exactly why the filmmaker, best known for his films such as The Fighter and Silver Lining’s Playbook, wanted to distance himself from the work, as despite the promising opening sequence, it heads rapidly downhill from thereon.
Alice (Jessica Biel) is a small-town waitress, who is proposed to by her boyfriend, and police officer, Scott (James Marsden). However before she even has the chance to give her answer, a freak accident in the restaurant they’re in, leads to the poor, unsuspecting woman having a nail lodged in her head – and with a hefty fee required to have it removed, her family decide it’s best if she just carries on as she were. However as a result of the accident, she starts acting abnormally and erratically, which takes her to Washington D.C., where she meets the inexperienced, feeble lawyer Howard Birdwell (Jake Gyllenhaal), who decides to take on her case, as she campaigns for better support for people with bizarre injuries.
There’s a certain charm about the film’s opening, as Mr. Sandman plays out and the luminous pink titles appear on the screen, it’s almost enchanting and endearingly kitsch. But that is soon disregarded in turn for a film devoid of any sense of linearity – which certainly wouldn’t have been helped by the continuous halting of the shoot. You also get the sense that the actor’s hearts just aren’t in their performances, which again is a result of the fact that the director walked away from the project, and they were left to re-shoot scenes without anybody at the helm, while his lack of investment in the project would have undoubtedly affected them too.
It’s just shambolic, with so many characters that have little bearing on the narrative and an overwhelming plethora of conflicting plot-lines, none of which are particularly easy to adhere to, and engage yourself with. Not the mention the countless jokes which misfire. It feels incomplete, without any palpable sense of closure, and ultimately, wildly unfulfilling. Here’s hoping this is Stephen Greene’s one and only job in the world of filmmaking.