Mad Love

Chris O'Donnell, Drew Barrymore, Matthew Lillard

Directed by Antonia Bird
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
May 26, 1995

It begins like a cutesy teen comedy and ends like an arty MTV video, but in between, Antonia Bird, the powerhouse British director of Priest, cannily subverts the cornball clichés in this adolescent love story from Disney. Drew Barrymore pulls you up short with a funny, sexy and surprisingly heartfelt performance as Casey Roberts, a free spirit who blows into Seattle from Chicago and dazzles the dork soul of Matt Leland (Chris O'Donnell), an honor student who has been caring for his dad (Kevin Dunn) and two younger siblings since his mom took a walk. It's more than sex with Casey that liberates Matt, it's her rule-busting defiance. Matt is slow to accept that Casey's idea of fun – she pulls a fire alarm to get attention and covers his eyes while he's driving – indicates mental instability.

When Casey's parents (Joan Allen and Jude Ciccolella) confine her to a psychiatric hospital, Matt breaks her out, and the two head for Mexico. It's on the road that Bird and the actors find the emotional core of Paula Milne's script. No matter how fierce Matt's feelings are for Casey, his love can't cure her clinical depression. O'Donnell finds the characters helplessness when that realization sinks in. And Barrymore etches a subtle and chilling portrait of a breakdown. Chain-smoking Casey tries to expel her demons with music (the soundtrack, covering grunge to classic rock, is expertly chosen), sex, drugs, even attempted suicide. In a piercing scene Casey sits with Matt in a restaurant out West, trying vainly to hold the thread of a conversation while her mind unravels. Bird fixes the camera on Casey's face as if to see inside. Thanks to the luminous Barrymore, this uneven but undeniably moving film comes close.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Bleeding Love”

    Leona Lewis | 2007

    In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."

    More Song Stories entries »