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Christopher Mims

A View from Christopher Mims

Finally, a Rom-Com for Science

Losing Control is a movie that understands the nerd heart.

  • March 23, 2012

If you’ve ever done time in a lab, or if your geeky tendencies extend to over-analyzing your love life, you’re probably going to like the new indy flim Losing Control, a romantic comedy that revolves around an obsessive-compulsive molecular biologist played by Miranda Kent.

(If you live in New York City, you can be among the first to see it, starting tonight, at Quad City Cinemas. Soon after, it’s coming to other cities.)

Courtesy of PhD Productions

It’s hardly surprising that Losing Control was written and directed by someone who earned a Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard Medical School. (That Valerie Weiss did so while simultaneously serving as filmmaker-in-residence at the university’s Dudley Film Program is all kinds of surprising.)

This being a romantic comedy, the plot of Losing Control is paper-thin, and there were times when the film felt a little less than Hollywood perfect. But for me, that only added to its charm. Maybe it was the little touches that drew me in. In one scene, the protagonist is forced to move her experiments to her kitchen, where she uses a salad spinner as a centrifuge. Yes, I know that a salad spinner couldn’t possibly have any utility as a centrifuge – the point is that the film devotes any screen time to centrifugation at all.

Courtesy of PhD Productions

Losing Control was obviously shot in a real lab. This leads to hijinks that would be staples of funny movies if only more than about one percent of the population had ever been inside a research facility. For example, the old “when all else fails and you have a date in 10 minutes, wash off in the emergency shower” gag.

Courtesy of PhD Productions

Losing Control doesn’t dwell on the protagonist’s research. In fact, it’s full of people dismissing or misapprehending the fairly straightforward problem she’s working on. Which should ring true for anyone in a technical field who has ever tried to explain what it is you do. And the plot? It’s about how love isn’t amenable to the tools of science. Awwww. But see it anyway – it’s a fun film, and if you’re a scientist or a geek, I guarantee it’s the only time in your life you’ll look up at the big screen and, for a moment, think “Hey, that could be me.”

Biophysicist, writer and director Valerie Weiss, Courtesy of Richard Salazar

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