Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Films Redefine Relationships; Lots of Twists and Turns in Rom-Com Rollercoaster Take This Waltz

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Films Redefine Relationships; Lots of Twists and Turns in Rom-Com Rollercoaster Take This Waltz

Article excerpt

EVERYONE thinks their life's going to end up like a romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks,C[yen] Emily Blunt's mother says in The Five-Year Engagement. Instead, this voice of bitter experience warns, you will likely find yourself in Saving Private Ryan.

The best new examples of the rom-com, for so long Hollywood's most conservative, misogynist genre, benefit from this realistic edge. The recently released Take This Waltz is the most radical and poignant development yet, as Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen's deeply loving marriage is unpicked by her desires and a meeting with hunky neighbour (Luke Kirby). It joins a trend in recent films such as Bridesmaids and Your Sister's Sister, often written or directed by women, for protagonists to dread relationships and stumble through loneliness, depression and bad sex in between newly truthful laughs.

C[pounds sterling]I feel like we deal a lot in fiction and films with the excitement of the beginning of a relationship,C[yen] Take This Waltz's writer-director Sarah Polley considers of this fresh perspective, C[pounds sterling]and we never follow up and say: CyWhat happens then? What happens to that intensity, where does it go? And can we live without it'?C[yen]

The modern rom-com began with Woody Allen's Annie Hall (1977). This landscape was feminised by the late Nora Ephron with When Harry Met Sally (1989) and skilfully mass-produced for TV by Friends. But Pretty Woman (1990) offered a more regressive, materialistic fairy tale, and subsequent mainstream rom-coms right up to Sex and the City 2 (2010) have been absurdly plotted hymns to lavish, fantasy weddings.

Writer-producer Judd Apatow is one unlikely source of the rom-com's rehumanisation. Films such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) didn't just offer crude slacker patter, but a warmly sympathetic sense of male longing. Their flaw, New Yorker critic David Denby noted of Katherine Heigl in Knocked Up, was that C[pounds sterling]like (Apatow's) other heroines she isn't given an idea or a snappy remark or even a sharp perception. …

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