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Accidental Love | Film review - Laboriously loopy farce leaves Jessica, Jake & co flailing

Accidental Love - Jake Gyllenhaal & Jessica Biel

Back in 2008, director David O Russell started shooting a would-be satirical screwball farce called Nailed. Beset by financial troubles and production shut-downs, he abandoned and disavowed the project in 2010 and then went on to hit his Oscar-and-Bafta-winning streak of The Fighter (opens in new tab), Silver Linings Playbook (opens in new tab) and American Hustle (opens in new tab).

Now credited to the Alan Smithee-style pseudonym ‘Stephen Greene’ and going by the title Accidental Love, Russell’s ill-fated movie has been resurrected, but the only awards ceremony it is likely to sweep is the Razzies.

Based on the novel Sammy’s Hill by Kristin (daughter of Al) Gore, the film’s problems start with its laboriously loopy plot, which kicks off with Jessica Biel’s roller-skating waitress, Alice, being accidentally shot in the head with a nail gun just as her state trooper boyfriend (James Marsden) is about to propose to her.

Then things really get bizarre. The US medical system won’t treat her because she lacks health insurance and the nail is left in her head, causing her to act erratically and leading her gallant fiancé to dump her. So she heads to Washington DC, where Jake Gyllenhaal’s semi-noble, semi-sleazy congressman takes up her cause…

There are some laughs along the way, but if Russell had been around to fine tune Accidental Love – or Nailed - in its final stages then the satirical blows the film aims at US politics and health care would surely have had a better chance of hitting their target. As it is, Biel and Gyllenhaal and their co-stars – who include Catherine Keener as a ruthless politician obsessed with putting a military base on the moon – are left flailing.

Certificate 15. Runtime 101 mins. Director David O Russell.

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.