'All I Wish' film review: Sharon Stone deserves better than this tepid rom-com
In short: Boho-chic Senna (Stone) dreams of becoming a fashion designer, but struggles with her career and love life. "All I Wish" checks in on Senna every year on her birthday, tracking the changes in her life through her late forties. Tony Goldwyn, Liza Lapira, Famke Janssen and Ellen Burstyn also star.
Senna is a frustrating protagonist to root for, making it difficult to truly engage with the film. While her dreams may be relatable, the film mishandles her journey completely. "All I Wish" is a character-driven comedy -- but Senna is certainly not the one behind the wheel -- and that is a major problem. She spends most of the film griping about her life to anyone who will listen, but she does very little in the way of actively progressing her own story. Whenever the plot needs to move forward, one of the supporting characters has to do the heavy lifting and take action. This film is not so much about Senna but about how Senna's awesome and forgiving friends help her realize her dream life.
The film's gimmick (of focusing on Senna's birthday each year) is a cute narrative framework that is mishandled. Each vignette has the plot of a tired sitcom - from the awkward "meet cute" to the super awkward misunderstanding about a gift. Because each chapter is modeled directly after a genre trope, consequently the entire film in aggregate is uninspired and flat.
Each segment of the film is also extremely repetitive. "All I Wish" could have told a woman's story, spanning years, using personal moments to show her journey. Instead, each segment follows the same exact beats: Senna's chats with her mom, chats with her best friend, chats with her love interest and (improbably) a massively important turning point in her career somehow happens. But this is the trap "All I Wish" created for itself by forcing a narrative structure that absolutely requires life-altering events to happen to Senna every year exactly on her birthday.
Pretty much everything about this film is dated. Ostensibly this film is about a woman trying to find romantic and career success, but her life in the fashion industry is determined by the beginning of the third act -- yet the film clunks along to its real agenda: getting Senna, who had previously renounced marriage, to find love. Her arch as a designer is basically background noise - and Senna is truly defined more by her unmarried status than her career aspirations (effectively rendering that theme moot). The music is dated. The production quality is that of a late '90s rom-com or something more at home as a made-for-deep-cable TV movie.
For their part, Goldwyn and Stone have pretty good chemistry, which provides the film with at least one semi-solid foundation. She is convincing as the late bloomer trying to get her life together. If nothing else, Stone is the strongest element of the film, proving more than capable of handling the script's botched attempts at comedy or drama. She deserves a better vehicle than this flat clunker.
Final verdict: The only notable aspect of this bungled dramedy is the blink-or-you'll-miss-it cameo by Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte. Yep, the brotastic Olympian famous for trying to make "jeah" happen and for lying about being robbed in Rio de Janeiro.
"All I Wish" opens in select cities March 30. This comedy has a running time of 94 minutes and is rated R for some sexual content and partial nudity.