ENTANGLEMENT

Separated Before Birth

(Jason James’ offbeat comedy Entanglement is in select theaters now as well as VOD.)

According to ScienceDaily, quantum entanglement “is a quantum mechanical phenomenon in which the quantum states of two or more objects have to be described with reference to each other, even though the individual objects may be spatially separated.” In other words, two objects, once paired, are forever linked, no matter their distance the one from the other. Genetic human twins may drift apart, but maintain a link, psychic or otherwise. Such a theory is the key pillar that support’s the belief system of Ben, the unhappy and unstable protagonist in Entanglement, a new feature from Jason James (That Burning Feeling). Comically macabre, the film follows Ben in his quirky misadventures to find the woman who almost became his adopted sister, hoping that a connection with her will get his derailed life back on track. What ensues is not quite what he dreamed of, but still life-altering.

Thomas Middleditch (Joshy) plays Ben as a (mostly) lovable sad sack. As the movie starts, we hear him, in voiceover, explaining the failures that have led him to suicide, an act at which we watch him fail, as well, in a montage of grisly, but funny, attempts. He almost succeeds with the tried-and-true method of slit wrists in a bathtub, but he can’t resist answering the doorbell, which gets him out in the open so others are able to intervene. One of those who care is his neighbor, Tabby (Diana Bang, The Interview), who pines for Ben even as she finds him frustrating. Bang is all restless energy to MiddIeditch’s lethargy, a nice contrast, though at first I was worried that she was going to be nothing more than a quirky friend of color (she is, eventually, more). For much of the story, Ben has his eye on someone else, however.

Convinced that his life went awry at some unspecified point in the past, Ben is both horrified and gratified to learn that his parents had once, before his birth, adopted a baby girl, who came home on the day his mother discovered that she was pregnant with him (they didn’t keep her, as a result). It’s typical of the movie’s aesthetic that Ben learns this fact from his dad, lying on a hospital gurney, post-heart attack; the grim and the farcical are another entanglement. And so off he goes, convinced that the path to happiness lies in the company of this unknown woman, whom he tracks down with the help of the faithful Tabby. The almost-sister is Hanna, who, as played by Jess Weixler (Teeth) turns out to be everything he is not (of course): impulsive, charming and very self-assured. Soon, Ben is revived, his suicide, as well as Tabby, all but forgotten. Hanna may just be too good to be true, however, with an illusory charisma that vanishes upon close scrutiny.

Though the script, by Jason Filiatrault, sometimes tries too hard to land corny jokes, and has a conclusion that is a little too pat for its own good, the movie, overall, is a pleasantly offbeat confection that, unlike Ben, succeeds more often than it fails. Weixler is a delightful screen presence, everything a depressed person could hope for in a savior. Bang, also strong, could have more to do, but makes the most of what she has. Middleditch takes what might have been an annoyingly whiny lead part and transforms it with near-perfect comic timing. Entanglement, then, has more than a quantum of entertainment value, offering up gentle truths about life and happiness, as well. Good times.

– Christopher Llewellyn Reed (@ChrisReedFilm)

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