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"It's like a zombie film... Clothed by Ralph Lauren"
Something Borrowed (DVD)
Member Name: JayHall1991
Something Borrowed (DVD)
Advantages: One good performance
Disadvantages: Everything Else
Rachel blends into the background, she's smart and beautiful but is constantly upstaged by her life-long best friend, the fun and flighty Parker. This even extends to love when Parker dates and gets engaged to Rachels long-time love and study partner Dax, who harbours feelings for the two of them. But as secrets get created and unveiled and as the road to happily ever after grows ever more gloomy the love triangle becomes ever more treacherous and the happiness of the three of them is endangered. This is even further complicated by Ethan, a close friend whose feelings for one of the girls guarantees that the fall out of the affairs and lies will end in heart-break.
It's rare that a romantic comedy elicits a genuine reaction from me; I am a big supporter of the genre and feel that most of criticisms which are a routinely levelled against it are flawed; but I rarely leave one feeling anything but mildly charmed. So imagine my surprise when, as 'Something Borrowed' shuffled towards its conclusion, I started to feel genuinely sick and a little outraged. It is such a mean-spirited and misguided exercise in movie making that the fact it even got made is mind-boggling; the storyline is a disaster, the performances hideous and the underlying message one of the most awkward in recent rom-com memory. These films don't actually have to do very much other than get a, presumably already susceptible, audience to invest in a few characters and offer up a bit of heart and a few laughs, but this fails on all accounts. It boils down to a story about mean people behaving badly without consequences or thought for the people they are supposed to care about. That we are supposed to root for any of them and that, even worse, we are supposed to feel their fairy-tale endings are well earned feels like a cruel joke.
It's hard to see what the film-makers are trying to get audiences to feel throughout the whole thing; the lead character is insufferable and all but one of the supporting players are selfish, egotistical and one dimensional. You get no greater sense of who the character's are as the film progresses and the stakes feel so strangely low that it is beyond impossible to invest even a tiny bit of emotion into the outcome. I would probably go so far as to say that the film is vile and really quite offensive in its off-handed treatment of its character's feelings and it's obvious contempt for the people who have paid to witness it. I understand that moral ambiguity is a, welcome, change of pace for the genre, but it's not ambiguous when nearly every player is damn right horrible. If they were trying to play with cinematic conventions and offer up a more 'edgy' twist on what is a well worn road then they would have been much better served to build layered characters than thin, mean stereotypes. In fact, the one character that is genuinely interesting and warm is stranded and left with a bizarre and kind of heart-breaking resolution. The message is heard loud and clear, those who have the sharpest claws get the happiest endings.
The script biggest weakness is that it fails to establish any kind of foundation for the story; we get no sense of who the characters are or even why they are interacting with each other. They all seem like they are in different movies and some of the more bizarre plot points are nothing but misleading; there are real gaps in logic and chronology with only the most tenuous links to reality. It seems to assume that we will identify with vacuous, terrible people because, well I don't know why, as there is little to no attempt to endear them to the audience. Jennie Snyder writes strictly in broad stereotypes and many of the genre's culprits are on display; the mousy push-over, the handsome wimp and the absent minded party girl to name a few. The whole thing is also severely damaged by the fact that the relationship between Rachel and Darcy is highly implausible and there is no real attempt to make us understand why the health of their relationship is of any real importance to either the story or the characters themselves. There is some quite good dialogue on display, especially between Ethan (the only sensible character in the thing) and Rachel as they occupy a sort of realistic connection that is made more fun by the disaster surrounding them.
None of this is made better by the fact that most of the performances completely miss the mark; Ginnifer Goodwin, who's feather-weight presence can often add to a film is just too flimsy to make the poorly written character relatable or interesting and her natural demeanour seems completely at odds with the often cold-hearted actions of Rachel. Colin Egglesteing is wooden and weak as Dex, failing to establish the kind of chemistry with his two leading ladies which might have made the battle for him vaguely believable and seems completely incapable of pulling his weight in the dramatic department. One scene, which should have represented the emotional crux of the whole story, is rendered almost laughable by these two's lack of spark and Egglesteing in particular lack the depth and range to make his character's weakness (which we are supposed to see as charmingly vulnerable) anything but wildly off-putting. Kate Hudson fairs slightly better as the hard partying and casually cruel Darcy because it plays right into her wheel-house and, to be fair to her, she does inject some much needed energy into the gloomy proceedings. Truly, though the only 'good' performance is from the predictably solid John Krasinki. He's actually quite brilliant as Ethan, vital and charming with the exact amount of heartache and snark that should place him in the for-front of the film. He is a major player in the handful of good scenes that 'Something Borrowed' possesses and delivers one of the films more crushing blows with elegance and sincerity.
The whole thing is predictably glossy, with some good, but hardly memorable, location shooting in New York.
All in all, 'Something Borrowed' is one of the most unpleasant films I have seen in a long time; partly because it fails to live up to its promise (as a romantic comedy with teeth) and partly because it is so monumentally mismanaged. In a time where the world seems to need escapism more and more it is disheartening to see a film that pits women against women, men against men and mean against meaner. It's certainly not funny, certainly not charming and definitely cold.
Summary: A sad, mean-spirited, cold look into the dating world