Deliver Us From Eva (2003)

(On DVD, September 2005) Most romantic movies start with a unique hook before devolving in identical third acts, and Deliver Us From Eva is no exception. A biting start featuring a strong-willed female character and some fluid directing leads to a third act that seems indistinguishable from countless other romances. Disappointing, but not too much: There is still plenty to like here and there in the film. I, of course, am an unabashed fan of Gabrielle Union, and she gets plenty of fabulous material as the eponymous Eva, going from shouting matches to romantic smoothness to energetic moments like “And-then-we-burned-a-hole-in-the-floor!” Faaabulous, which makes the last-third erosion of her character all the more disappointing to see: In a development that is sure to anger not just feminists, her hard-willed character becomes a mewling kitty as soon as she gets a good night’s of, er, not-sleep. At the same time, the three sympathetic henpecked boyfriends who get the plot moving are revealed to be moral weaklings who pretty much deserve everything they can get. None of that is meant as a slight of James Todd Smith (aka LL Cool J) in the male lead role, appropriately smooth and amusing as needed. The direction also has its moments, though those tend to sputter off as the film advances. In the end, Deliver Us From Eva a decent film, worth watching for Gabrille Union fans, but also a disappointment and a sign that there’s still plenty of room for improvement in how romantic comedies are structured.

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