Published May 1, 1997
Addicted to Love, written by Robert Gordon and directed by Griffin Dunne has its moments of humor but it never really seems to understand the seriousness of the issue it is playing with. This is the issue of revenge. Maggie (Meg Ryan) has been dumped by Anton (Tcheky Karyo), who has since moved on to Linda (Kelly Preston), who has accordingly sent a Dear John letter to Sam (Matthew Broderick). Maggie and Sam get together to plot revenge against Anton. Interestingly, Linda is pretty much left out of their plot, as if she were somehow not party to the cuckolding of Sam. For Sam still loves her. Maggie thinks this “the most pathetic thing I have ever heard,” but she is soon able to win him round to sharing in her hatred for Anton, if not to convince him that “the only way that girl is coming back to you is if a blast of semen catapults her across the street.”
The naïveté of Sam is rather overplayed and relies too much on the typecasting of Mr Broderick, Hollywood’s premiere wide-eyed innocent. When Maggie lets him hear the sounds of wild lovemaking transmitted by the bugging device they have planted in Anton’s and Linda’s apartment, he affects to think “he’s killing her,” since Linda “likes to make love quietly and slowly.” Such innocence is not in nature. Maggie’s description of Anton’s lovemaking, and the way that he will make Linda “feel like the only woman in the world” is a more promising counterpart in tenderness to the ferocity of her thirst for revenge, but the subtlety it calls for is alas beyond Miss Ryan’s capacities. All we have to represent her defensiveness is motorcycle gear and tough talk about her wish to “vaporize” Anton. It’s too obvious and requires someone of Sam’s preternatural naïveté not to notice it.
The two of them manage to wreck Anton’s life in ways that border on the disturbingly funny. But resolution comes when Anton explains that he dumped Maggie because he didn’t really love her. He was grateful to her for helping him get a visa to live in this country (how she could do that if they weren’t married is not made clear), but he couldn’t make gratitude turn into love. “You can’t choose who you love,” he says. Maggie hears him say this over the bugging equipment and realizes that it’s not all his fault, as she had thought. So the two of them call it even. Sam naturally doesn’t want Linda anymore, and Maggie and Sam go through the usual movie pas de deux before arriving at the inevitable conclusion. Revenge, it seems, however problematic it briefly threatens to become, is ultimately the way to true love.