A Lot Like Love has opened and people know what the shot is, so here’s my question. The movie takes place over a seven-year span during which Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet meet and clack against each other like billiard balls and bounce around and don’t get down to really being with (and for) each other until the end, which is naturally presumed to be now, i.e., sometime in ’05. The story begins, therefore, sometime in ’98. Much of A Lot Like Love happens in New York City, and one of Peet and Kutcher’s early scenes happens somewhere in the vicinity of the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge, and at night. Now, what visual image would immediately convey that this scene is in fact happening several years ago? Obviously, a shot of the World Trade Center towers, which could be easily CG’d into the Manhattan skyline. This wasn’t done, one assumes, due to some form of cowardice or trepidation. Director Nigel Cole (Calendar Girls) didn’t want to throw in a slight gulp-inducing visual cue into a vaguely escapist relationship comedy because he lacked the confidence, and was afraid a glimpse of the towers would somehow upset the vibe. Well, okay, it might have for a minute or two, but life is like that sometimes, and this doesn’t mean lovers don’t go right back to being in love and saying dopey things to each other five minutes later. This movie rests on the idea of Peet and Kutcher’s relationship beginning several years back, and if Cole wanted to avoid the issue I’m raising here he could have easily shot their outdoor Manhattan scenes in Grammercy Park or Yorkville or anywhere else besides the way-downtown area of Manhattan. I understand that comic farces can’t touch reality without shattering their chemistry, but A Lot Like Love pretends to be emotionally earnest and socially particular and down-to-earth. Not using the twin towers as a visual backdrop was, I feel, a profoundly chickenshit move on Cole’s (and Disney’s) part.