There’s some credence given to the notion that Rob is still looking for “the one:” the magic partner who will make him whole. Obviously, that is where the title I’m Not In Love stems from. The conceit being, of course, that there is no such person and that everyone is doomed to the same predestined daily grind until the sweet release of death.
The one person in the tale who has taken the road less travelled is Rob’s friend Chris (Morgan Watkins), who’s an avowed bachelor, devilishly handsome, and the absolute envy of his peer group with many sexual conquests. However, he is shown in the early stages of decline. He’s bored with the superficiality of hooking up with so many women, he’s nihilistic and disaffected, and during the course of the film, he even turns up with erectile dysfunction. He seems to be the object lesson warning in what is turning into a pro-marriage cautionary tale.
Rob’s particular reason for being gun-shy about marriage is that his parents’ marriage was a classic dumpster fire. His father left the family when Rob was a kid. His mother is portrayed as a stereotypical tone-deaf harpy who Rob can barely stand to be in the same room.
“… entertaining and engaging…”
One finishes the movie with the sense that our protagonist, like Winston in 1984, has finally won the victory over himself, loves Big Brother, and is ready to read the part as written. The character, therefore the narrative, never explores the scary, hard questions about what will give meaning to Rob and Marta’s lives. His fear of loneliness has trumped his desire to find a situation best suited to him and his partner. It’s a bittersweet finale for a romantic comedy.
If all this sounds incredibly familiar, it’s because we’ve been handed films with some variant of this narrative dressed up in different costumes for the last 20 years. It is practically its own subgenre. I’m Not In Love is Knock Up, American Reunion, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and so many indie movies the list would scroll for pages. Most notably, however, is the similarities to High Fidelity, the book by Nick Hornby/film starring John Cusack. The main difference being that this Rob is neither as funny nor as charming as Cusack’s Rob Gordon in that classic. The point is, it’s been done and better.
I suppose the notion of suggesting therapy and self-reflection would make scriptwriting insurmountably difficult. Healthy people don’t make for lively stories, generally speaking, but this particular rabbit hole has been explored ad nauseam.
Filmically, I’m Not In Love is competently made. Despite the screenwriting-as-therapy formula, it’s entertaining and engaging to watch. That said, it’s time for all man-children to grow up now. Men need to do better, and there has got to be another take on relationships we can explore. Anyone?
"…a pro-marriage cautionary tale."