Lovely By Surprise is a quirky, amusing independent film that is worth a second viewing. There are so many small nuances and details presented throughout the story that passive viewing will only lead to confusion. It truly is a movie that requires the viewers’ full attention.
There are three storylines present in the film, and all eventually become one. It’s quite a creative feat achieved by writer Kirt Gunn; as a result, a unique film experience is produced.
Marian (Carrie Preston) can’t decide how to finish her first novel. Despite help from her mentor Jackson (Austin Pendleton), her feelings for her two main characters (played by Dallas Roberts and Michael Chernus) prevent her from taking the steps suggested by him.
Her inability to follow-through with what her mentor feels is the best way to handle her writing issues leads the novel, the characters, and Marian on a collision course with one another. The end result is bittersweet, ironic, and cathartic.
The film brings to mind Marc Forster’s film Stranger Than Fiction starring Will Ferrell. Both films utilize the convention of the novelist as God; the controlling force in the lives of fictional characters that are rooted more in reality than the writer would like to believe.
Despite its similar premise to Stranger Than Fiction, writer/director Gunn takes the story and his characters in totally different directions. The end result is a film that takes the viewer on an emotional and thought-provoking journey.
Fans of independents like Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, and the underappreciated Snow Cake will enjoy this insightful drama. I also recommend it as a nice break from the summer movie insanity. Definitely a movie you have to sit down and watch with your brain turned on.