Krysten Ritter and Kate Bosworth in the LAFF world premiere L!fe Happens

Making its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival on Saturday night, Kat Coiro’s indie comedy L!fe Happens revolves around the ups and downs of three LA roommates: Deena the independent, career-minded writer who launches a successful advice/lifestyle column aimed at women; Kim the new mother who works as a personal assistant but whose career ambitions are on hold until she can get a grasp on being a mom; and Laura the ditzy, naive and virginal brunette. While L!fe Happens (they’ve got to get a new title) takes a while to find its groove, it eventually clicks and winds up showing plenty of promise.

Fair-skinned and black-haired Krysten Ritter who you may recognize from a number of film and television appearances (including a 10-episode arc during the 2009-2010 season of Breaking Bad) plays Kim, Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush, Superman Returns) plays the focused Deena and Rachel Bilson is third wheel Laura. Bilson is mostly around for comic relief, but there’s real chemistry between Bosworth and Ritter. Their friendship and the inherent difficulties and resentments of two women whose lives are veering off on different paths are what keep the film on track in the early going.

The problem early on is that the script (co-written by Coiro and Ritter) starts off in a breezily comic key, but it comes across a little flat. The jokes are there, but somehow they don’t quite make the transition from page to screen. Eventually though things start to pop. It’s not terrible, it’s just a little bit listless. However, as the stakes increase and some interesting side characters start playing a larger part – particularly Justin Kirk as the terminally off-kilter Henri who just can’t say no to Deena and Kristen Johnson as Kim’s crazy boss – L!fe Happens (no seriously, that title has to go) starts to come alive. Among other bits, there’s a gross but pretty funny routine involving breast milk that I have to admit never having seen in a movie before.

Aside from some of the comedy, the refreshing thing about L!fe Happens is that the female-centric world it evokes is almost entirely foreign territory to most movies. There are some of the trappings of the typical romantic comedy – Kim’s romance with hunky Nicolas follows a familiar trajectory right down to the complications from hiding the fact that she’s a single mom – but Coiro and Ritter are more interested in the inner lives of their characters, the ups and downs of the friendship between them and the decidedly non-Sex and the City-y problems of modern women.

While L!fe Happens is not a home run of a debut film, it shows a real confidence and represents what could be the blossoming of two new interesting voices on the landscape of modern cinematic comedy.

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