Entanglement (2017) reviewed by Jonathan Berk
Entanglement is a delightful dark romantic comedy that features a plot that has a predictable twist but still manages to pay-off. We meet Ben (Thomas Middleditch) as he is writing his suicide note. He has run a hose from his car’s exhaust to his second-story apartment window and is patiently waiting for the exhaust to kill him. Fortunately…or, from his perspective, unfortunately…someone steals his car, and he has to come up with a “Plan B”. Thus, we are presented with a dark montage of Ben testing other avenues in which he can kill himself before finally landing on slitting his wrists.
Entanglement is a successful dark romcom
It’s not easy to make a suicide joke work, but director Jason James and Middleditch manage to pull it off. It is definitely partly in response to casting, as Middleditch is great at playing a sympathetic loser. If you’re lucky enough to have been watching him on “Silicon Valley”, you already know this. His charm makes you root for him, and his comedic sensibility makes most of this film work very well. So, he slits his wrists and goes into the bathtub, but hears the distinctive sound of the apartment buzzer going off. He stands out of the tub and wobbles down the stairs leaving a trail of blood on the wall as he attempts to balance himself. There is a delivery for him at the door, and after a surreal series of events, help is called.
We rejoin Ben a little while after his suicide attempt, and he is in therapy attempting to get his life in order. There are several funny moments that transpire in the film, but the “meet cute” happens at a pharmacy. Initially, we don’t learn her name, but Hannah (Jess Weixler) is the Manic Pixie Dream Girl for Ben. While shoplifting, she tells Ben to call her before she vanishes from the store. Luckily, Ben sees this as a bad situation, and uses the twenty dollar bill she wrote her number on to pay so he won’t be tempted. However, fate will not be denied, and he ends up running into her while looking for his could-have-been-sister.
It may be necessary to back up a minute and explain something here…Ben is determined to find the point in his life where he made the decision that sent him on this path of awfulness. He discovers that his parents almost adopted a child, but had to give her up on the day they got her they found out Ben was in his mother’s womb. With the assistance of his neighbor Tabby (Diana Bang), Ben bribes a guy at the adoption agency for intel of who that child was. This is how the MPDG returns to Ben’s life and helps him on his journey of self-discovery and recovery.
There is a lot of heart in this film. Middleditch definitely gets to shine and show his range with this role. He is funny, but he is also able to deliver the emotion when needed. Diana Bang is an actress to watch out for. There are a few moments in the film that made me love her character, and it’s all thanks to Bang’s delivery. Weixler is good too, and manages to play on the trope she’s cast in quite well. In fact, the use of the MPDG works really well in the context of the story…but any more discussion of this would be too much of a spoiler.
Entanglement is a really solid film with an interesting story that telegraphs a twist but has more to offer than just that. The three main characters all give great performances, but even the smallest role does really well here. It’s a film that could easily be missed, but if you like romantic comedies or dark comedies, it’s worth watching. Entanglement earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.