Toni Collette plays the lead role of Ellie, a music critic still living in the shadow of her ex-boyfriend, emblematic musician Matthew Smith, who disappeared ten years previous. Ellie still really is living as though she's ten years in the past, and that includes not adapting to the changing expectations of the magazine she works for, until she's given an ultimatum to do a story on Smith, and the music impact he had. She begins a search to see if he's out there, somewhere. Also featured are up-and-coming musician Lucas, played by Ryan Eggold (who wrote and sang his own songs), and one-time date Charlie (Thomas Haden Church).
I wasn't particularly impressed with Ellie as a character, her challenges she's facing certainly are the point of the film, but it was hard for me to really get by the number of chances it seems she gets, and some of what seems to be her more manipulative tendencies. That said, for that character, I do think Collette plays it well, just that there's parts of the character that were not so motivating. Lucas also feels like a bit too cliché of a character to feel particularly real.
Oddly, and certainly not something I'd expected when he first showed up, but for me Charlie quickly became the most interesting character. At first introduction, there's certainly a repellent vibe to him, but it gets developed more into an extreme social awkwardness and unawareness than maliciousness. He still doesn't quite strike me as pleasant, per se, but there's a personality to him from both the writing and Church's performance quickly makes him the most memorable character for me. His actions, his words, his personality all are very idiosyncratic but with an element of being genuine hinted at, but never fully convincingly there. It certainly does make him the character that held my interest best though.
The film feels like it makes some sudden stops and gos, with overly convenient plot turns, and a lot of side events that clutter the film, but don't quite seem to really add enough to the story to justify their inclusion, and there could've been a lot more included in there to flesh out Ellie's search for Matthew. I do like, though, that ultimately the film becomes more about if the search is worth it or not, or if ten years is long enough to let the past remain in the past or not. It's an interesting theme, and while I think the search isn't conducted consistently, thematically the film is always exploring if that search is worth it.