If I haven’t already given you all enough of a reason to judge me already, I’ve got quite the confession for you: I thoroughly enjoy romantic comedies. Oops.
No, I don’t mean “The Notebook,” or any other Nicholas Sparks tearjerker extravaganza. I don’t need to see any more middle-class Caucasians prancing around in a field or kissing in the pouring rain like hypothermia is back in style.
There’s a code when it comes to a lot of the rom-coms we’ve come to know, and their innate predictability turns a lot of people off. But it should be known that there’s more to the romantic comedy genre than the “chick flick” notion we’re used to.
To me, a romantic comedy is a “(500) Days of Summer”-style film, packed with deep character study, superb acting and commentary on the ever-changing complexities of romance.
Yes, romance is complex. It’s not always about getting married, having children or moving to Paris and eating baguettes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Romance is entirely subjective. In college, lighting a dollar store candle and sharing a 1000-calorie pizza might do it for you, but as you get older, a deep companionship a la “Lost in Translation” may be all the romance you need.
Romance doesn’t have to fulfill any requirements. You don’t need to go all “Romeo and Juliet” and sacrifice yourself over a teenage tryst. You aren’t required to weep for hours in your bedroom, bemoaning the latest unrequited love plaguing your very being. You don’t need to change other important parts of your life, or even change your life at all, to commit yourself to a relationship.
Romance need not be so serious all the dang time, and that’s what really draws me to romantic comedies in particular. It’s best to be able to laugh at yourself, through awkward first dates, embarrassing outbursts of affection or the silly idea that we always need the company of another person to be a complete, happy individual.
Over the past few weeks, Ragtag Cinema has been showing “Enough Said,” a rom-com that displays everything I’ve talked about thus far. You know Julia Louis-Dreyfus (also known as Elaine from “Seinfeld”)? She’s in it, along with “Sopranos” superstar James Gandolfini, in one of his final film appearances.
You may be thinking, “How am I, a mild-mannered college student, supposed to relate to a romantic comedy featuring old people? Hashtag gross.”
Well, concerned college student, I encourage you to broaden your horizons! When it comes to romance, old people typically have us youngsters beat. I know it’s hard to believe, given our obsession with grinding and the existence of dates at Plaza 900, but the geriatric collective can oftentimes teach us quite a few things about relationships.
In “Enough Said,” Eva (Louis-Dreyfus) is a divorced masseuse dreading being an empty nester after her daughter moves away. After meeting Albert (Gandolfini), she welcomes romance back into her life. They quickly hit it off, and eventually hit the cusp of a “serious” relationship.
Unfortunately, one of Eva’s clients is Marianne (Catherine Keener), a successful poet who just happens to be Albert’s ex-wife. Marianne’s pessimism about her old marriage starts to rub off on Eva, and she begins to question everything about her new love interest.
No, being a college student, you probably don’t necessarily “relate” to this plotline unless you’re a 20-year-old divorcee. But the themes of the film go deeper than just age and potential liver spots. Divorce is an epidemic, and it sucks, but as “Enough Said” illustrates, it’s not always the end of the road. There is life after divorce, and the same goes for all trauma and relationships in general.
Who am I to offer advice about romance, as I sit at my apartment with my second (third) bowl of cereal, giggling as my bunny nibbles on a carrot? Maybe I don’t have the most impressive credentials. Maybe you shouldn’t take my advice.
I think that when it comes to romance, the best thing you can do is listen to yourself. As long as it’s legal/socially acceptable, you’ll know what’s best for you.