Matthew Broderick stars in Addicted to Love as a small-town astronomer whose wholesomely radiant girlfriend (Kelly Preston) suddenly leaves him for another man and a new life in New York City. Unable to reconcile himself to losing her, and convinced that she is ultimately incapable of such treachery, Broderick moves himself into the building opposite that which Preston shares with her new lothario, an imperious French restaurant owner played with nice comic flair by Tcheky Karyo. Using an apparatus he contrives out of lenses and mirrors, Broderick spies on the couple for days until he is interrupted by a surprise guest: a disheveled, flinty biker-chick named Maggie, played by Meg Ryan, whom Karyo dumped when he started dating Preston.
Of course, the meekish Broderick and the bruising Ryan don't see eye to eye, except that they both have a vested interest in spying on their former flames. She's looking for a way to punish Karyo, and Broderick is waiting patiently for Preston to grow dissatisfied and return to him. Ryan assures him, however, in one of the film's best and dirtiest lines, that the only way Preston will come back is if she is shot out her window and across the alley by a certain geyser force released from Karyo's virile frame. Finally, Matthew casts his bitter lot with Meg's, and the two of them embark on increasingly elaborate schemes to avenge their trod-upon hearts.
It is no secret that these two stalkers will eventually find solace in each other's company. On some level, Addicted to Love operates just like any other romantic comedy, but you really have to dig in this film to find that hidden layer of sweetness and silver linings. Most of what Addicted to Love puts on screen is scabrous and hard, though redeemed by a consistently funny script and the sheer unexpectedness of its jagged edges. Ryan trades in most of her usual twinkle for something more brittle and foul-mouthed, and I was delighted to see her push the envelope of her own comic appeal. Maggie never seems quite real, but rarely does anything in this type of film seem altogether genuine; rather than making us believe her character, Ryan, like Karyo, simply allows us to enjoy her, to be entertained by her crudeness and peppy belligerence.
By contrast to those two, Broderick and Preston come off rather blandly, and Addicted to Love itself is never quite as vivid as the individual contributions of Ryan and Karyo. First-time director Griffin Dunne, most famous as the star of Martin Scorsese's After Hours, enlivens the proceedings with a pleasing visual flair, composing his shots in surprising, careful ways that make the viewer as much of a spyand as avidly soas Ryan or Broderick, whose camera obscura surveillance device is also a neat contraption. Don't get me wrong, we're not talking about the second coming of Rear Window or Peeping Tom here, but it's an exciting first step for newcomers Karyo and Dunne and an ingratiating reminder that Ryan can do more than play cute and cuddly. B