Forget Black Swan – Natalie Portman’s real crowning performance is to be found in the romantic comedy No Strings Attached in which director Ivan Reitman asks her to convey sincere unqualified affection for Ashton Kutcher. Portman much to her credit gamely complies and though she may not have the emaciated figure bloody nails and bandaged ankles to tell of her labors the psychic scars must no doubt be just as severe.
Exhibiting strong chick-flick leanings and a rambunctious soft-R comic tone (i.e. lots of F-bombs some menstrual humor and a few shots of Kutcher’s naked ass) No Strings Attached is built around a basic relationship role-reversal: The dude Adam (Kutcher) longs for a deeper lasting commitment; the chick Emma (Portman) insists on keeping matters purely physical. Emma’s motive is a practical one: As a doctor-to-be her busy residency schedule with its 80-hour work weeks and intensive exam preparations precludes a serious relationship. But alas a woman has certain needs (foreplay apparently not being among them) and who better to fulfill them than Kutcher’s non-threatening boy-toy?
Thus a “friends with benefits” arrangement is cemented whereupon the ripcord is to be pulled on the occasion that either of them develops stronger feelings. This does not last long for soon Adam is cloyingly lobbying for escalation. Emma demurs – not out of disinterest we are told but because she’s intimacy-averse and afraid of a broken heart. Why else would she resist a more permanent attachment to someone like Adam?
Perhaps it’s because Adam as played by Kutcher is about as interesting as cabbage. And yet No Strings Attached would have us believe he’s some kind of floppy-haired Albert Schweitzer. This despite the fact that his greatest aspiration in life is to join the writing staff of a High School Musical-esque television series the shallow inanity of which is one of the film’s recurring jokes. In vain support of his cause the filmmakers decorate Adam’s apartment with various props – vintage posters books about 1920s movies a guitar that is occasionally picked up but never actually played – that hint at a depth that Kutcher himself never manifests.
Still Portman sells us on Adam and Emma’s inevitable union with every ounce of her not inconsiderable talent. (And her comic chops are legit – as those who’ve glimpsed her appearances on SNL and Funny or Die can attest.) But she asks too much. And Elizabeth Meriweather’s script while witty and stocked with some keen observations on the evolving nature of relationships in the modern age becomes weighed down by sentiment unbecoming an R-rated comedy not directed by Judd Apatow. In the end Kutcher seals the increasingly contrived deal with the climactic line “I’m warning you: Come one step closer and I’m never letting you go ” (I’m paraphrasing but not loosely) by which time the film's already lost its grip.
Natalie Portman is going to be BIG in 2011. She's more than likely a lock in the coming Oscar race for her no-holds-barred performance in Black Swan and she's got a handful of films set for release in the first half of next year, starting with Ivan Reitman's No Strings Attached. Working opposite Ashton Kutcher, she stars as a woman who engages in a casual affair with her friend only to end up wanting something more from the relationship. An all-star supporting cast including Cary Elwes, Olivia Thirlby, Greta Gerwig and Kevin Kline round out the talented roster of the cheery romantic comedy.
Today, we're exclusively debuting the poster for the film, which hits theaters on January 21st. Check out the poster below and make sure you see No Strings Attached when it rolls into theaters next year!
Source: The Wrap
She's already worked with son Jason, now The Wrap reports that Olivia Thirlby (Juno, upcoming The Darkest Hour) is in talks to join Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman in father Ivan Reitman's untitled comedy at Paramount Pictures.
In the film, previously known as "Friends With Benefits," a guy and girl try to keep their relationship strictly physical, but it's not long before they learn that they want something more.
Thirlby would play Portman's sister in the film. Greta Gerwig, Kevin Kline, Ophelia Lovibond and Ben Lawson also co-star.
The script was written by Elizabeth Meriwether. The studio is planning a January 7, 2011 release.