I guess I thought it was, like, whimsical,” Thomas Middleditch’s character in Entanglement offers as a defense at one point. Director Jason James and screenwriter Jason Filiatrault apparently share that assumption; the movie opens with a sequence that aims to spin gentle laughs from an attempted suicide. From there, the narrative rides the twin tracks of poignancy and humor, with a quantum-physics detour, to diminishing returns. James’ assured timing and visual knack almost mask how strained and half-baked the story is.
But the helmer draws sharp, engaging performances from his cast. Silicon Valley’s Middleditch wisely underplays the role of sad sack and would-be suicide Ben Layten, who has been despondent since his wife left him. When you strip away the actor’s charm, Ben is an insufferable man-child. For one thing, he still sees his child psychologist (Johannah Newmarch). The film provides not the slightest inkling of his professional interests or general purpose in life. His possession of carefully curated vinyl albums, an unconvincing nod toward soulful hipsterism, is meant to suffice.
Somehow, all the blank spaces in Ben’s personality make him the romantic ideal for a couple of smart women who cross his path. His neighbor Tabby (Diana Bang) might be proprietor of an artsy boutique, but she has time to do some motherly tidying up of Ben’s apartment, entering without his knowledge or permission. To Tabby’s dismay, a mystery woman enters Ben’s life and claims enter stage, schooling him in more daring forms of breaking and entering.
Their paths cross about the time that Ben finds new focus for his Rx-muted days, after his hospitalized father (Eric Keenleyside) takes an absurd stab at a deathbed confession: He reveals that decades earlier a baby girl almost became Ben’s adopted sister. Convinced that the phantom sibling is the key to haunting woulda-coulda-shoulda questions, Ben sets out to find her.
Entanglement: Film Review A family secret sets a depressed man on a quest in a romantic,