Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant) is a cynical and self-deprecating former ’80s pop idol who turns down an offer to appear on a reality TV show for has-beens. Instead, he chooses to play the far more dignified nostalgia circuit, and hires the lovely but deeply insecure Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore) to water his plants while hes away. When Alex is tasked with writing a song for pop starlet Cora (Haley Bennett) in just four days, Sophie reveals herself to be a gifted songwriter and they end up making beautiful music together. Despite this contrived set-up, the film, to its credit, deftly avoids many possible rom-com clichés in favour of organic, character-driven conflicts and comedic situations. As Alex and Sophie fall in love, their relationship begins to mirror the song writing process; they grapple with their creative differences and emotional hang-ups, all the while dealing with the pressures of the music industry. The two leads (aided by great supporting turns from Brad Garrett and Kristen Johnston) manage to pull all this off with a lightness of touch that makes the characters’ vulnerability appealing rather than pathetic.
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