A movie-obsessed projectionist looks back at his relationship and wonders where it all went wrong in this debut from Nicholls.
Nick and Ellie meet under auspicious circumstances: at an election-viewing party the night that Barack Obama is chosen as the next president of the United States. Nick, who loves nothing more than films and works as a projectionist at a theater, instantly falls for Ellie and sees the entire movie of their relationship play out in his mind. Now it’s four years later, Obama is about to be elected president once again, and Ellie’s moved out of their apartment. Forlorn and desperate to figure out where it all went wrong, Nick retraces their entire relationship as the plot jumps back and forth among the night they met, the present day, and the challenges the couple faced along the way. Meanwhile, Nick finds himself falling further and further into despair as he loses his apartment, his parents move away, and his theater switches from film to digital, rendering his job obsolete. With his entire life in shambles, Nick must finally look inward to figure out why things with Ellie really didn’t work out. Nick tends to think in movie references, many of which are very clever, particularly an oft-remembered argument with Ellie about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Unlike in many books and movies with similar plots, Nicholls doesn’t treat his female character like the bad guy for stomping on the male character’s heart and ego. Instead, he examines her point of view as she reminds Nick that life is more than just movies—or, at least, life doesn’t turn out like the movies sometimes, and Nick may have to make some big changes if he wants a Hollywood ending. Their relationship has cinematic highs and believable lows, with fully rounded characters and smart, snappy, romantic comedy–worthy dialogue. Nick’s and Ellie’s real lives aren’t a movie, but as Nicholls tells it, they might have a happily-ever-after anyway.
A delightfully sweet, funny, and heartbreaking ode to love stories, both onscreen and off-.