Female scientist experiments with love

Losing Control film review

**** (Four stars)

Alison Haywood, A&E Reporter

Published in The Mooring Mast March 23, 2012

Actress Miranda Kent proves in the film Losing Control that you don’t need to be a ditzy blonde to make a good romantic comedy.

Little-known actress Miranda Kent (Campus Ladies, In & Out) plays Sam, the lead character who is not the stereotypical girl pursuing hookups with the hunky guy next door, but rather a Harvard grad student putting her long-term lover second to a series of scientific experiments. When Sam’s boyfriend Ben, played by Reid Scott (The Big C, All My Children) proposes marriage, she is unable to accept that he is indeed her true love before establishing empirical proof.

What follows is a series of wacky dates with different men while she struggles to find a “control group” against which to compare him. But when Ben accepts a fellowship to research in China, it may be too late for Sam to get him back.

Paralleling this plot is Sam’s struggle to reproduce a scientific experiment she has been working on for the past four years when she discovered a protein that could prevent genetic disorders by killing Y-chromosomes. She is constantly ditching lovers to run back to the lab, and at one point actually brings her date to the workplace, which ends in a hilarious disaster. The two plots are brought together at the end in a surprise twist that tied up all the loose ends and made sense of seemingly-irrelevant details. The added drama and suspense made the film more interesting.

The pacing was overall good and kept me engaged, although the ending was a bit abrupt as the film was only 90 minutes.

Although the cast of Losing Control was mostly unknown, the acting was spot on. Sam was realistic and easy to relate to despite her neurotic tendencies, and supporting roles were quirky and distinct.

I did not, however, like the one-dimensional nature of the “other lovers,” most of who served merely as placeholders and contrasts to Ben. Their exaggerated personalities made them unbelievable, albeit hilarious.

The poorest executed contrast was Sam’s best friend and former roommate Leslie, played by Kathleen Robertson (Scary Movie, Beverly Hills 90210). Although the laid-back, promiscuous woman was meant to serve as a foil to neurotic and uptight Sam, there was little to suggest how these polar opposites could have become friends, and we learned nothing about her character.

I was pleased to see a strong, smart female scientist in the lead role. Writer and director Valerie Weiss said she loosely modeled the character after her own experience as a Harvard PhD candidate before becoming a filmmaker. My sense of social justice was disappointed, however, to see a clear use of stereotypes later in the film with Sam’s stingy Jewish parents and her studious Chinese lab assistant.

One of the film’s greatest highlights was the original soundtrack, composed by John Swihart. The catchy, folksy music reminded me of the soundtracks to Juno or Amélie and the down-to-earth feel helped balance Sam’s neurotic nature.

The realistic camera technique, beautiful screen composition and repeated color motifs inspire me to give the film ten out of ten for cinematography.

For great acting, plot and soundtrack, but weak supporting roles, however, I give this film four stars overall.

“Losing Control” will play for one week at The Grand Cinema in Tacoma starting March 30.


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