REVIEW OF ‘THE ORANGES’

The Oranges, starring Leighton Meester and Hugh Laurie, with supporting roles played by the always wonderful Allison Janney and Alia Shawkat, was first released in 2012. It has recently become available on Netflix. The film takes place around the holidays in West Orange, New Jersey, a small suburban town that gives the main character and narrator, Vanessa, a constant cringe. Since I grew up in a small town in New Jersey as well, I can relate.

The plot is as follows: Nina (Leighton Meester), a bit of a wild child, enjoying her youth and leaving her parents by the wayside, comes home after breaking up with her fiancé. Her mom (Allison Janney) really wants her to date their family friend and neighbor, Toby (Adam Brody), but instead Nina falls for his balding dad, David (Hugh Laurie)*.

*Which is kind of ironic since Meester and Brody ended up getting married in real life.

I think it’s safe to say that every person ever since time began has had a crush on a friend’s parent, or at least someone substantially older than themselves. Thus, it wasn’t surprising that Nina developed feelings for David – what was surprising was that he developed them for her as well.

The film jumped right into things – establishing relationships, background story, character friction, and having Nina and David kiss only twenty minutes in. Most films with similar plots focus on the climactic moment of the physical act of cheating after building up the intense sexual tension for the first half of the film, succinctly followed by a montage of the two characters sneaking around, before polishing it off with the aftermath. The Oranges isn’t a movie about an affair though; it’s a movie about how one unconventional relationship involving very conventional families in a very conventional town affects recognizable characters. It’s about relationships (as all great movies and shows are).

The movie showed how sometimes even if two people are right for each other, they might just have to find each other again the next time around and hope the circumstances are different and timing is right. The movie illustrated that age really is just a number and there is no expiration date on love.

I found the film incredibly refreshing in that it didn’t have a happy ending placed softly in a box with potpourri and garnished with a red bow. It was about life, and anyone who has lived knows that sometimes you end up in the shitter for a little while, and it can take time before it gets better. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the ending was that –

(SPOILER ALERT)

Nina and David ended up alone, as did David’s wife, Paige. The film didn’t give everyone a new love interest or have them patch things up with their exes; it left most of them flying solo. And it was okay. It wasn’t a bad ending, it was a real one.

(END SPOILER ALERT)

Overall, I really enjoyed the film. I thought there was some chemistry lacking between Meester and Laurie (perhaps because Meester was starting to get the hots for Brody on set), but otherwise the relationships between the characters were all believable and on point.

I will close with my favorite line from The Oranges which doubles as a phrase I hope I’ll never have to say in my lifetime: “Understand what? That I’m the first son in history to be cockblocked by his father?!”

Kat Stubing

@katstubing

Header image: http://imgkid.com/the-oranges-poster.shtml

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