What If: a romantic comedy with a somewhat run-of-the-mill story, Michael Dowse’s film is nevertheless made more interesting and pleasurable by the smart dialogue (if at times a little bit too calculated to be cute) and charming pair of characters. Zoe Kazan and Daniel Radcliffe (despite his stardom) have a common-people quality to them; he is awkward, but the role calls for it. The occasional slapstick is out-of-place.
Magic in the Moonlight: Woody Allen’s film is a pleasurable if breezy experience, harmless fun in the best way; the story, little more than an excuse to display immaculate, rich art and costume design, beautiful cinematography (by the great Darius Khondji) and justifiably use a jazzy score. This being an Allen’s film, there is the usual assortment of amusing one-liners. The cast is very attractive, and perfectly capable to reading the smart dialogue; Colin Firth makes a perfect curmudgeon, and Emma Stone is equally fine […]
I Married a Witch: while the high concept of René Clair’s romantic comedy is interesting enough, and the central characters are attractingly played by Veronica Lake and Fredrich March, this film unfurls too quickly, too suddenly for it to be fully enjoyable. There are certainly many interesting moments, but the story seems almost an afterthought. Visually, the film has a cute solution on how to present the characters, which match perfectly the overall feeling.
Don Jon: perhaps the biggest asset in this rom-com is how unromantic (therefore, refreshing) it is. Also, the structure smartly mimics the repetitious nature of the characters; the downside, of course, is that it becomes dull every once in a while. Nevertheless, the choice is interesting. Scarlett Johansson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are both solid in their roles; much like the structure, their acting call for repetition with subtle changes throughout the film, but those are well-portrayed.
Enough Said: by one hand, a rather formulaic romantic comedy; however, and most importantly, it’s also a rich, earnest, heartfelt look into human relationships, romantic or otherwise. What truly makes this writing work are the characters, and how well-played they are by the cast. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is, at times, a bit too broad, but a strong presence nevertheless; James Gandolfini plays his character with great sweetness and certainly is the stand out (and, needless to say, gone too soon).
How to Steal a Million: it is sometimes said that “they don’t make films like this one anymore”; such nostalgia implies that the subject at hand has wit, class, naïveté unmatched in the present. This film is one that may inspire such comments. It’s light, charming entertainment; has a lovely cast (Peter O’Toole and Audrey Hepburn displaying great chemistry) reading sparkling dialogue with aplomb, all under the solid hand of William Wyler. It’s perhaps too light, almost inconsequential, if that’s a […]
I Was a Male War Bride: there really isn’t a secret for making a good romantic comedy, but it seems to have been lost over the last 60 years or so. One starts with a good, funny story (if preposterously true, so much the better); create an engaging central pair of characters; write them smart dialogue; find a good cast that can read the dialogue properly and voilà! Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan, in this case, have great chemistry and […]
Silver Linings Playbook: it sounds obvious, but the rarity of it suggests it’s a well-kept secret: interesting, engaging characters help a film immensely. The main trio in this one are very interesting, rich and well-played by the actors. (Robert De Niro hadn’t been this good in a long time.) The story itself is little more than a romantic comedy (not that there is anything wrong with that); raised above the average by those elements (and the use of “Unsquare Dance“).
Hope Springs: while the story unfolds like a low-key fantasy (therefore a little bit too perfectly, as it’s usually the case with rom-coms), it’s well sold by the cast. It’s a good example of how good actors play off each other, as the silences and reactions reveal as much about the characters as the speeches and actions.