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He planned his life like clockwork.
Now things are going cuckoo.
Frank Allen (Ryan Reynolds), celebrated author of the best seller The Five Minute Efficiency Trainer, has perfected the art of living. With his foolproof system of timetables and index cards, Frank doesn’t believe in spontaneity. Every choice he makes is deliberately designed to contribute to a well-ordered, predictable life.But life never adheres to a strict schedule.Attempting to loosen her husband’s scheduling stranglehold, Susan (Emily Mortimer) unleashes a series of mishaps by adding 10 minutes to Frank’s day; turning his meticulously ordered life upside down.As his life completely unravels, a shattering revelation forces Frank to look fate squarely in the eye and live entirely “in the moment,” defying the conventions that defined him. Not even an efficiency expert armed with timetables and index cards can change the serendipitous nature of family and friendship, love and forgiveness.
Ryan Reynolds’ exceptional performance as an efficiency expert off his game is the best reason to see Chaos Theory, a drama-comedy full of surprises. Reynolds plays Frank, a compulsive list-maker and paragon of punctuality who gets behind schedule one day by a mere ten minutes and watches his world fall down around him. Arriving late for one of his own seminars, the rattled Frank becomes vulnerable to a serial seducer (Sarah Chalke) of married men, and drawn into a baby-delivery emergency. The ensuing confusion causes a rift between Frank and his suspicious wife (Emily Mortimer), which is nothing compared to what happens after Frank--trying to resolve his problems--discovers he’s not the father of his daughter, Jesse (Elisabeth Harnois). Daniel Taplitz’s screenplay feels a little random in its first act, though there is a lot to enjoy, particularly a preface that finds Frank around age 50, a wily observer of human nature advising his future son-in-law on how to survive tough times in marriage. (The film’s story proper is actually told in flashback.) Reynolds co-stars, including Stuart Townsend as Frank’s best friend, are all very good. But Reynolds has lately been perfecting such rising-toward-clarity roles as Frank (see also The Nines), and he is superb at conveying competing emotions under extreme stress. Equally ludicrous and sympathetic, Frank gives Chaos Theory an absurdist soul. --Tom Keogh
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