In 2008 David O Russell was in the process of co-writing and directing a political comedy called Nailed. Unfortunately, due to a string of strikes, cast members leaving, and Russell himself abandoning the project, it was shelved in 2010. After five tumultuous years of financial issues, quick rewrites and reshoots, it was finally unveiled to the unsuspecting public with all those problems projected onscreen.
Alice (Jessica Biel) is accidentally shot in the head with a nail gun, but due to her lack of health insurance she is unable to pay for the surgery. She hopes that congressman Howard Birdwell (Jake Gyllenhaal) can help her meet her needs, and so accompanied by Reverend Norm (Kurt Fuller) and Keyshawn (Tracy Morgan), she ventures to Washington DC to track him down. They soon come into political conflict with representatives Pam Hendrickson (Catherine Keener) and Harshtone (David Ramsay).
The production problems cast a very large shadow over this film, and at times are wholly foregrounded. There are certain shots that have clearly been salvaged from the editorial archives with poor visual resolution, notably a scene featuring two conversations, in which one looks polished, and the other looks to be in a pre-production phase. The political satire on the military programme and public healthcare bills further dates the movie. Since Obamacare and the exposure of drone strikes, the commentary is better suited for the Bush administration. This results in a film whose rhetoric appears out of touch with contemporary political problems.
By far the greatest flaw is in the haphazard climax, which unsuccessfully fuses wit with narrative simplicity. This audience-insulting finale is all too neatly packaged, and too contrived to be forgiving. It is more akin to a lazy studio sitcom than a Russell political comedy.
Accidental Love is an atrocious mess that seems only to have been salvaged in order to earn some return against its inflated budget. It has some Russell directorial trademarks, along with his usage of an ensemble cast, but it can’t mask the development problems that it undoubtedly experienced. This is really a film for dedicated David O Russell fans who wish to witness his last comedy film, and his move to more dramatic projects.
Accidental Love is released nationwide 19th June 2015.
Watch the trailer for Accidental Love here: