Indie romantic comedies are swarming with aimless, emotionally damaged men seeking meaning in the arms of confident young women. Sometimes, like Ben (Thomas Middleditch) in “Entanglement,” these sad specimens are permitted clinical passes for their weird behavior; but whether in need of restraints, medication or simply a decent barber, they are almost always presented as desirable romantic partners.
Let’s go with that, then. “He’s not good in a crisis,” Ben’s father informs us, though a montage of botched suicide attempts has already established Ben’s misery bona fides and general ineptness. His wife has skedaddled, but his nosy neighbor (the delightful Diana Bang) is eager to clean his house and enable his quest to track down the woman who was once almost his adoptive sister. Like the wiring in Ben’s brain, it’s complicated.
Impressively photographed and perkily paced, Jason Filiatrault’s story never droops quite as much as its lead character, injecting a welcome poignancy that tempers the cuteness. And Mr. Middleditch (star of the smart HBO comedy “Silicon Valley” and those grating Verizon commercials) is blessedly low-key, dialing down the neuroses and allowing his director, Jason James, to control the increasingly sanguine mood.
Yet the job of rescuing the movie from a well of cartoonish whimsy falls on the gifted Jess Weixler as Hanna, the mystery woman who gives Ben the eye and a reason to live. Pert and pretty and smart-mouthed, Hanna is intriguing and a little dangerous — the splash of vinegar that counters the sugar. That she would give Ben the time of day is more than enough notice that all may not be as it seems.
– By JEANNETTE CATSOULIS FEB. 8, 2018