Dir: Valerie Breiman. USA. 2000. 82 mins.

Prod Co: Bogart/Barab/Wyman. Int'l sales: Behaviour Worldwide. Prod: Timothy Scott Bogart, Brad Wyman, Martin J Barab. Exec prod: Mark Damon. Scr: Valerie Breiman. DoP: Adam Kane. Prod des: Sarah Sprawls. Ed: Martin Apelbaum. Mus: Billy White Acre, Pierpalo Tiane. Main cast: Famke Janssen, Jon Favreau, Noah Emmerich, Ann Magnuson, Cheri Oteri.

A romantic comedy with added zest, Love And Sex marks a winning debut from writer-director Valerie Breiman. Sitcom smart dialogue is allied to situations that will strike a chord with anyone who has attempted to negotiate the minefield of modern love. That's a huge potential audience for a bright and breezy addition to the When Harry Met Sally charm school.

Described by its creator as "embarrassingly autobiographical", Love And Sex feels more real and less mass manufactured than many recent examples of the genre. Breiman also has a keen eye for casting and draws sharp performances from lanky Famke Janssen and chunky Jon Favreau, a delightfully unconventional coupling who readily persuade us that they belong in each others' arms.

Focusing on the familiar chasm between men and women, the film steps beyond the all-consuming pursuit of a happy ending to follow the central couple as they struggle to make their relationship last the distance.

Favreau's silver-tongued artist and Janssen's jaded journalist experience an instant attraction when they meet at an exhibition of his work. A continuing intoxication suggests that this might be the real thing until they are challenged with the baggage of past relationships and an inability to commit.

Although what follows is often contrived and a tad repetitive, Breiman charts their making up and breaking up with a nimble wit and the kind of frank, neurotic exchanges that wouldn't be entirely out of place in a Woody Allen film. Her view of Love And Sex would seem the perfect date movie.