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How to Lose Your Lover

New Line // R // March 14, 2006
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Svet Atanasov | posted March 13, 2006 | E-mail the Author
The Film

When Owen (Paul Schneider), a freelance biography writer, finally decides to clean up his act and move away from LA fate presents him with a tough decision. On his way to LAX he meets the beautiful Val (Jennifer Westfeldt) who invites him to have a glass of wine with her at the nearby bistro. There, mesmerized by Val's beauty, Owen decides to put his plans on hold and go out on a date with her. His strategy is simple: he will act like a normal guy, hence, make the necessary steps to turn her off. In fact, the best thing to do will be to try and have sex with Val right after dinner. Why not? This should "impress" Val so much that she would never ever again want to hear his name. Then, back to plan A: bidding LA goodbye!

Well, where to begin with this one? Despite of my deep affection for Jennifer Westfeld, which was the sole reason behind my decision to see How To Lose Your Lover, I am left just about speechless. I thought that after seeing Gary Goldberg's Must Love Dogs I have seen it all but…I have been wrong! Writer-director Jordan Hawley (Wildfire) has decided to create an "honest" romantic comedy about a loser and his disastrous attempts to put some order in his miserable life which quite frankly reminded me how bad Hollywood can be. After seeing the aforementioned Must Love Dogs which was also marketed as a "truly honest" portrait of a middle-aged woman attempting to find her match in an increasingly frustrating dating scene I am now nearly convinced that either all film producers in LA are happily-married men and women and therefore have no clue what they are filming or, Hollywood is living in its own happy bubble where dating is as exciting as reading your local phone book.

There is not much that I can praise in How To Lose Your Lover! Disregarding the somewhat decent opening which totals no more than twenty minutes this film incorporates just about every cliché you could name previously used in stories that deal with losers and desperate women. Only all of these "desperate" women that we see in How To Lose Your Lover happen to be gorgeous, mostly well-mannered, and with plenty of appreciation for guys who do not drive the latest S-class Mercedes but fancy taking the local community bus. In addition, to give his story an extra dose of spice writer-director Jordan Hawley also provides us with a few gals that lack the manners but happen to be blond and bi-sexual. If this is not the most anti-"real" story you have heard of then feel free to point me in the right direction.

Before I get slammed for my generalization of the dating scene in LA let me clarify that what you just read above is precisely what How To Lose Your Lover reveals. Nothing I described is a product of my imagination nor is it something that I borrowed from another story. With other words, this film is as meaningless and anti-romantic as these types of films can get. And if not for the wonderful Jennifer Westfeld I doubt it I could have made it until the final credits. Indeed, it is pretty sad that such projects actually get funding and there are people out there who think that they are good entertaining material.

How Does the DVD Look?

Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and enhanced for widescreen TV's this release is not indicative of New Line Home Video's usually high-standards of video presentation. There is some heavy digital noise as well as some substantial pixelization which is especially evident throughout some of the night scenes. I am not quite so sure what the nature of the problem is though if I had to guess I would probably think that there is something wrong with the manner in which this film was transferred to DVD. Certainly the excessive grain visibile thourghout the opening scenes is not how the film was meant to look. That put aside the rest of the presentation is rather tolerable: contrast is somewhat decent and colors are rather well handled. Edge enhancement however is a major factor with this release and I suspect that those of you with more sensible home theater equipments will have plenty to frown over.

How Does the DVD Sound?

Offered with a standard 2.0 Dolby Digital track and a more elaborate 5.1 track the audio presentation is rather well-handled. I did not hear any distracting dropouts or hissing and the 5.1 mix in particular was rather impressive. In English with optional English and Spanish subtitles.


Aside from a gallery of trailers for other upcoming or already released New Line products there is a commentary with the producer of How To Lose Your Lover J. Todd Harris and writer-director Jordan Hawley. The two go into great detail describing how the film was shot, the evolution of the story which apparently was in the making for more than five years, and some of the technicalities surrounding the completion of some specific scenes. I found it quite amusing that there were some direct parallels made with such visionary directors as Woody Allen and Francois Truffaut. All things considered the commentary is rather more entertaining than the actual film. Last but not least there are seven deleted scenes that have been provided for this DVD release. All of these, however, bring very little in addition to what we are offered in the final version of this film and as far as I am concerned have been rightfully omitted.

Final Words:

Plenty of people love to slam just about anything that Hollywood produces. I certainly tend to give a fair chance to any film release regardless of what has been previously said about it. Well, after seeing How To Lose Your Lover there is not much that I can disprove with my comments regarding the quality of this "romantic story". If not for the charming Jennifer Westfeld who managed to keep me away from leaving the story after the first twenty minutes I would say chances are you've seen How To Lose Your Lover under a different title. Still, give it a rental, you might find it more pleasurable than I did. RENT IT.

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