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CATCH AND RELEASE

About The Film
"The tone of this film is unusual, because it isn't a drama and it isn't a comedy, but to me, that's what life is – a lot of both. You know the old saying: tragedy plus time equals comedy,” says Susannah Grant, writer-director of the new Columbia Pictures film Catch and Release. Grant has been hailed for finding the comedic elements of life's drama – and vice versa – in such films as In Her Shoes, 28 Days, and Erin Brockovich, for which she was rewarded with an Academy Award® nomination.

Jennifer Garner, who takes on the lead role of Gray Wheeler, agrees that managing the fine line between comedy and drama required a balancing act. "You try to be as honest as you can in any given moment – not go too heavy in either direction. It's like you're with a girlfriend; she's freaking out one minute, and the next, you're both laughing hysterically – and still crying.”

According to producer Jenno Topping, Garner became an influential and important voice in the creative process from the very beginning. "Jennifer was attached very early,” she says. "There are few actresses who could play this part, handling the shifts between humor and drama, often within the same scene.”

The project began when a few ideas merged in Grant's mind. "I was intrigued by the idea that the worst thing that could happen to someone would become the thing that saves her life, the thing that moves her to a greater sense of existence,” she says. As that idea was brewing, a friend related to her a story: while attending a funeral for a friend of his who had died, he had seen the widow being comforted by her husband's male friends. From these two germs, Grant created the story of Gray Wheeler, played in the film by Jennifer Garner, who comes to terms with the sudden passing of her fiancé, Grady, the glue that held together their mutual friends. Now that he's gone, long-held secrets, skeletons, and resentments come to the fore… with comedic results.

"Gray suddenly realizes that she no longer has her boyfriend there to buffer her relationships with their mutual friends,” says Garner. "Everything each of them has held inside starts to bubble up. Sam begins to drink and eat too much and skips out of work. Dennis reveals he has a crush on her. And then there's Fritz, Grady's childhood friend, who doesn't fit in with the others, but turns out to know who Grady really was better than any of them.”

"All the relationships end up shifting in the wake of Grady's death,” says Grant. "They struggle comedically with this shift. Nobody goes into these kinds of life changes willingly – we're always dragged into them, kicking and screaming. By the end of the film, they're on a richer level of existence.”

Catch and Release marks Grant's debut as writer-director; though she had been intimately involved with several successful films as a screenwriter, the time and project were right for her to make the leap behind the camera. "There's a natural completion to the story process when you direct,” says Grant. "I didn't write it intending to direct, but once I finished it, I thought, ‘This is one that I want to carry all the way through.'

Acknowledging the collaborative nature of filmmaking, Grant explains, "Every original script comes from a place important to you. As a writer, you make the script exactly what you want it to be – there are questions and ideas in it that you care about. When producers and directors come on board, some of those ideas get taken out for questions and ideas that are important to them. I didn't want that to happen with this script.”

Grant says that from the first moment, Topping became the film's best and fiercest advocate. Catch and Release marks only the latest collaboration between the professional colleagues and personal friends. "Our husbands know each other, our kids play together,” sh

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