Sundance 2012 Review: ‘Save the Date’

‘Save the Date just gets it right.’

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Save the Date is my kind of indie movie. It’s about really honest characters and relationships, with some light jokes, but at any point it is compelling. The script by Jeffrey Brown, Egan Reich and director Michael Mohan says a lot and the execution just gets out of the way of the words and performances.

Any one of these characters could have been a horrible cliché in the wrong hands. Commitment phobic Sarah (Lizzy Caplan) rejects a proposal and then rebounds, while her more traditional sister Beth (Alison Brie) gives advice and plans her own wedding. These are actors I like anyway so I want to see what they do, but performances like this just makes me admire them all the more.

Brie has a way of delivering advice and reacting to Sarah’s rejection of said advice that’s so casual it’s sly. I could analyze her facial ticks and timing but really it’s her attitude. And Sarah may have commitment issues but she has loving, passionate sex with her boyfriend and she’s just a cool girl. You can see why men want to try to work it out with her.

I love the way these characters talk. Caplan enunciates “divorrrrce” and Brie just proves an expert at subtle vocal changes. She doesn’t sound like Annie or Trudy Campbell. They’re just nice people, maybe a little selfish or condescending at times, but they’re appealing characters who go through things.

They deal with rebound relationships and bridezilla issues healthily. They’re not more profound than real people would be able to be, but they confront problems head on, without ego or acting out. The most Beth ever demands is still really wanting a bit too much from someone she loves. When Beth’s fiancé (Martin Starr) finally speaks up, he speaks to deep family values that usually get buried in real families or “family” movies.

I love the scene where a tipsy Beth confronts Sarah on asking her ex Kevin (Geoffrey Arend) to still be the wedding band. It’s a drunk fight but it’s about her real point of view, and it’s not horrible but it is inappropriate.  Sarah’s rebound date is sweet, and both Sarah and Jonathan (Mark Webber) are totally up front about it. The merlot joke is laugh out loud funny.

Save the Date just gets it right. The tone is kind and sympathetic but juicy with drama and tension breaking comedy. Maybe it’s that a woman with commitment issues is more interesting than the male cliché. It speaks to deeper issues than just “guys want to have casual sex.”