The movie follows three main characters - Rusty, a teenaged boy portrayed by Nat Wolff (this is his debut film, too, as far as I know); his older (college-aged) sister Samantha, played by the beautiful Lily Collins, and their father Bill, played by Greg Kinnear.
Bill is a bestselling author, divorced from his wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly), holding on to the hope that she will come back to him and trying to raise his young adult kids.
Like I said before, this movie has all my favorite things.
Firstly, It's about love.
The director said in this interview that he wanted the film to be about three different types of love so everybody could find something to relate to: first love, first mature relationship, and divorce.
First mature relationship: Samantha (Lily Collins) is a promiscuous college girl determined to never fall in love after seeing what it's done to her father. But when her classmate Louis (played by the kid who played Charlie in Perks of Being a Wallflower aka Logan Lerman) persists in courting her, she gives in and the two form a relationship.
Divorce: Bill and Erica try to navigate their divorce. Bill seems to have custody of Rusty, while Erica has visitation rights. Samantha hasn't spoken to her mother since the divorce.
Bill is not coping well with the divorce. He makes Rusty set a place for Erica at the dinner table, hoping she'll come home.
Meanwhile, he also makes an effort to move on (though one he knows won't lead anywhere) by having an affair with a married Kristen Bell.
Out of the three types of love, I could only relate to the first two but I thought it was interesting how each of the main characters had their own love story. I love me a good love story, especially when it's troubled.
As the interviewer pointed out in that link I posted above, the art of writing is not inherently visual so it's hard to transfer that to a sreen.
The first lines of each of the main characters are shown textually on the screen, I think to show that they are writers and they write their thoughts down. Luckily, that technique is scrapped right away. If I wanted to watch a film with subtitles, I'd turn the captions on.
One of the main plotlines is that Bill pays his children to keep journals. He checks the dates to make sure they are writing. The idea is that they will have money so they won't have to get jobs and can instead focus on their art.
Throughout the course of the film, Samantha is having her first book published.
In the film, writing is more just a part of the characters' personalities and lives, not so much the focus of the film, so I think changing the title to focus more on love than on writing was appropriate.
Thirdly, it's about music.
The soundtrack to this film is amazing. The opening credits roll over Edward Sharpe's "Home".
Members of Bright Eyes contributed songs to the soundtrack (namely Mike Mogis and Conor Oberst.)
Kate's Christmas present to Rusty is a Bright Eyes album which she says is "a road map to my soul" (such a very teenager thing to say).
When Sam and Louis are getting to know each other, he plays her his favorite song in his car in the rain - "Between the Bars" by Elliott Smith.
The film also features tracks from Bon Iver, The National, and others.
Music is an important aspect of the film both in the plot and as soundtrack, and I loved all the songs.
Finally, it's about family.
the movie is most of all about a broken family trying to repair itself and learn to love each other again.
and...without giving too many spoilers, the movie has a happy ending, which you know I LOOOOVE!
I really love this film and think you should definitely watch it.