Love Story

Critics Consensus

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68%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 25

75%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 35,258
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Movie Info

This distaff romantic tear jerker concerns a young couple who fall in love despite the objections of their families. Taken from Erich Segal's best selling novel, Jenny (Ali MacGraw) is the Radcliffe student of modest means who has worked hard to excel academically. Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O'Neal) is the son of a wealthy but coldhearted father (Ray Milland). After graduating from law school, he takes a job at a prestigious law firm and moves in with Jenny. She tries to make a living as a vocal instructor as they both try to make it without outside economic help. Jenny soon is diagnosed with an incurable disease and inflicts the meaningless catch phrase from the film "Love means never having to say you're sorry" at least seven times. To date, no one has been able to fully explain the meaning behind this insipid statement that set an entire generation into denial and into therapy about feelings, wants and needs. The film was a box office smash that was nominated for seven Academy Awards, but only the music took home the coveted Oscar. Look for Tommy Lee Jones in an early role as one of Oliver's college chums. Love Story has endured as one of the top sob fest romantic tragedies of all time.

Cast

Ali MacGraw
as Jennifer Cavalleri
Ryan O'Neal
as Oliver Barrett IV
John Marley
as Phil Cavalleri
Ray Milland
as Oliver Barrett III
Katharine Balfour
as Mrs. Oliver Barrett III
Russell Nype
as Dean Thompson
Sydney Walker
as Dr. Shapely
Robert Modica
as Dr. Addison
Andrew Duncan
as Rev. Blauvelt
Bob O'Connell
as Tommy the Doorman
Sudie Bond
as (as Sudi Bond)
Milo Boulton
as (as Milo Bolton)
Julie Garfield
as Bystander at Harpsichord Concerto
Charlotte Ford
as Clerk, Mount Sinai Hospital
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Critic Reviews for Love Story

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (17) | Rotten (8)

Audience Reviews for Love Story

  • Aug 29, 2014
    Well, I guess Arthur Miller did, in fact, write something as cheery as a love story from time to time after all. I am very, very forcibly kidding, partly because this is Arthur [u]H[/u]iller, and largely because this film by no means ends up going down an especially cheery path. This is a seriously lazy title, but it's not exactly misleading, because when I hear about a dramatic "love story", I'm usually expecting something kind of depressing, at least ever since this film. This thing was trite and a groundbreaker at the same time, which would be awesome if the usual romantic drama released afterwards were better or, well, watchable. I exaggerate, but forget Nicholas Sparks for ruining this formula, which actually might not have ever been that good, yet can at least be respected more back in 1970, because kids had much better taste in music back then. In all fairness, this film has a classical soundtrack, which makes it a cheater, because the music goes to show you that kids have ostensibly been gradually losing taste in music ever since Bach and Mozart (That's right, this film is so clichéd that it plays some Bach and Mozart), while giving the film enough of a sense of sophistication for the film awards to embrace it when it first came out. Maybe people got so sour about the film in retrospect because they couldn't help but think about Ryan O'Neil's later work (This film is some kind of a curse, I tell you), although it doesn't help that this film, as decent as it is, has plenty of flaws. The film drags its feet from time to time, or at least feels as though it does, because among some of the bigger issues in this film is cold spells to Arthur Hiller's storytelling which range from a little bland to rather dull, with a limited flare that doesn't exactly more sparkling through the years. This film is betrayed by its own legacy, because, really, its formula has gotten to be so overexplored that it all but makes this film feel trite, and it doesn't help that there are many areas in which this film does, in fact, hit tropes, and hard, with familiar themes and conflicts, driven by characters who aren't quite familiar enough. It's not like the developmental shortcomings thin down the background of the characters, as much as they water down a sense of motivation in the characterization, for the initially obnoxious characters come to take on humanizing roles that seem to come in from out of nowhere, just as the romance itself feels rushed into, not quite fleshed out enough as convincing on paper for you to embrace the melodramatics which thrive on the romantic dynamics. Really, I don't think there's any overlooking the histrionics which define this story, for this is a conceptually compelling, but unlikely narrative is manufactured in a lot of areas in its characterization and conflicts, made all the more contrived by subtlety issues to storytelling. The directorial storytelling is usually pretty subtle, maybe too much so, while the writing proves to be intelligent in other areas, but certain themes and dialogue pieces are thrust against your head, as are what characterization there are which are comprehensively distinguished, thus making for an occasionally cheesy script whose directorial interpretation also has its moments of atmospheric bloating, which punctuates directorial dry spells a bit too intensely. When the storytelling resonates, it cuts fairly deep, and when it doesn't, ambition only stresses the other shortcomings of this slow, dated, formulaic and rather contrived melodrama, holding the final product pretty decidedly into underwhelmingness. It's remarkable that the film manages to border on rewarding, but, make no mistake, the final product comes closer to being consistently compelling than it does to falling flat, having plenty of taste, even in music. There's not much to the film's soundtrack of limited dynamicity and even more limited prominence, but the classical pieces, both unoriginal and composed for the film by Francis Lai, are beautiful by their own right, and complimentary to the tasteful heart of a drama whose sophisticated musical sensibilities add to a sense of importance. It certainly helps that the story itself is worthy, watered down partly by its dated aspects and contemporary convention, and largely by its melodramatics, but still promising as a portrait on the young love, and how it fairs against conflicts in family, living condition and, of course, health. The subject matter followed in this melodrama is valuable stuff, and the final product could have rewarded if Erich Segal's script was more realized, without the inorganic exposition and contrivances which play a huge role in holding the film back that goes challenged by clever, memorable dialogue (Ironic how the woman said, "Love means never having to say, 'I'm sorry'"), and some profound highlights in manufactured, but distinguished characterization which embodies, at least for the time, relevant themes, and intriguing dramatic layers. I wish there was more subtlety to the storytelling, but there is a fair bit of it, and it's largely found within direction by Arthur Miller that also has its overbearing moments to punctuates often dull dry spells, but is particularly tasteful, with delicate pacing that establishes a sense of thoughtfulness, whose application over more realized touches in drama begets genuine resonance. The film comes down to some heavy twists and turns which people these days can surely predict, even if they're not familiar with this film, yet which remain pretty powerful in their saving an underwhelming melodrama as, well, slightly less underwhelming, charged by performances that are consistently endearing. The characters have their unlikable, or at least obnoxious traits, and they stand to be much more nuanced, but only in their writing, for lead performers Ryan O'Neil and Ali MacGraw, despite keeping consistent with solid charisma and an electric chemistry, are layered in their subtle, sometimes piercing emotional commitment to the portrayal of budding love's having to face many a harsh reality. I suppose O'Neil and MacGraw technically carry the film, because even though they can't quite get the final product to a rewarding point, they are what push this messy melodrama to the brink, with the help of some inspired storytelling that make things plenty engaging, for all of the ambitions and misguidance. Bottom line, there are some draggy, or at least bland spots, as well as spots which either have become dated or were formulaic to begin with, while undercooked characterization, melodramatics and certain subtlety issues to storytelling truly limit momentum, until the final product falls as underwhelming, but not so much so that a tasteful soundtrack, worthy subject matter, often smart script, thoughtful direction, and effective performances by Ryan O'Neil and Ali MacGraw fail to secure Arthur Hiller's "Love Story" at the brink of rewarding as a flawed, but enjoyable breakthrough in tragic romantic melodrama. 2.75/5 - Decent
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Dec 11, 2013
    I find it amazing how quickly Ryan O'Neal seemed to be everywhere and was in some really important pieces of work..and then he just vanished and no one knew where to find him? Anyways about the film. it is considered a romantic classic but it has too much syrup to be taken too seriously. Cliched to the max. Many don't seem to care.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • May 20, 2013
    MAN! MAN! I didn't LOVE this movie, but I can certainly understand its cult status as the bitterest of the sweet, chocolate-shitting, daisy-vomiting doomed romances. I'm guessing it spawned other rich boy-poor girl-DEATH stories such as "A Walk to Remember," which is also schlocky but irresistible. The screenplay boasts some nice zingers (the couple's catty meet-cute and the bad-dad-retort, "I won't give you the time of day!" "Father, you don't HAVE the time of day!"), formulaic but emotionally effective flashback structure ("She loved Mozart, Bach, Beatles, and me"), and clever match-cut storytelling (tense dinner with parents told over car ride home). Francis Lai's haunting score and the impromptu snowmance sequence are lovely wordless portraits. One gripe I have is with Ali MacGraw. I find her portrayal of Jenny completely overdone. Many of her snarky lines would've been better deadpan or flippant. Instead, every sarcastic quip is bolded, underlined, and italicized. Jenny is a quirky character that I'm sure many young men of the 70s fell in love with, but she could have used a subtler actress. I read on IMDb that the director considered Ryan O'Neal a reactor, not an actor, and that is certainly true. All of MacGraw's overacting is tempered by O'Neal's natural movements, boyishly floppy hair, and teary baby blues that exemplify how every woman should be looked at by her man. *SPOILERS* My other gripe, of course, is with the famously contentious line, "Love means never having to say you're sorry," and its implication in the movie's unsatisfying dissolution. Firstly, semantics: does the line mean one should never do anything so hurtful that it warrants an apology? Or does the line mean one shouldn't have to apologize because your partner already knows you're sorry and will forgive you? I personally like the second interpretation, and it would have made a better ending. Oliver's father is clearly sorry for cutting Oliver off for marrying beneath him. He gives Oliver money no questions asked and calls around to find out it was for Jenny's treatment. He has taken steps toward reconciliation and should be forgiven. I expected Oliver to say the line, then hug his father - indicating that he understands and accepts his father's repentance.
    Alice S Super Reviewer
  • Dec 06, 2012
    A preppie Harvard law student falls for a lower class music student. I don't know if "Love means never having to say you're sorry" was a cliche in 1970, but it certainly is now. It's also bullshit. So is this film. The class difference between the lovers is explored only in generalities and cliches and so are the "hard times" they experience when Oliver rejects his privilege for love. in the third act, the film doesn't reach Terms of Endearment-level maudlin, but it's close. Compelling performances by Ryan O'Neal and Ali MacGraw can't do anything to save the fact that the film says nothing new and can only serve as fodder for an evening filled with Haagan Daz and romantic reminiscences. Overall, I don't know if it's because my own love life is tattered, but I suspect that in any mental or emotional state I would find this film to be sanctimonious nonsense that couldn't charm me unless I was drunk, high, wasted, wired, slammed, smashed, hammered, tripping, and shitfaced.
    Jim H Super Reviewer

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