There's so much that works in Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing that it's a shame the film runs off its rails in the last third. Up until that point, director Alan J. Pakula and screenwriter Alvin Sargent have created an endearing, funny, bittersweet romance that, while it doesn't really break any new territory and holds few surprises, is enormously pleasing. The creators treat us to the familiar sight of two misfits coming to realize that they were meant for each other; it's so rarely true in life, but when granted such careful handling, makes for a lovely film. Sargent gives his couple all the right kind of quirks and lets them spout lines that win the audience over with ease. And then it all goes awry when the film decides to take a page out of Love Story. Things never recover after that, but even so, there's enough good that has come beforehand to make Pain worth seeing. And despite the plot twists, nothing stops the indomitable Maggie Smith, turning in another performance that is nothing short of delicious. As her partner, Timothy Bottoms has to struggle to keep up, but he manages to do a more than decent job.