An attack from within.
This is an incredible achievement for John Cassavetes. Not only has he made an outstanding screwball/romantic comedy, but he has also made a deep and biting attack on the way we let the movies(and also our culture) shape the way we see the world. For those of you who are seeking a love story, Cassavetes provides an extremely lovely one. The rules of the screwball genre are strictly followed. A man meets a woman, they are an impossible match in terms of personality, they try to fall in love, then comes the inevitable 'hiccups' in their relationship, and last but not least, the happy ending. But, as has always been the case with Cassavetes, that is only a very small fraction of what you'll get. He obviously has got a lot more to say. The 'surface' story is not the only story here. Beneath it lies another 'story'. And I don't think the other story will ever get past you unnoticed. The real story here is a 'cultural' one. It is a biting attack on the way we let movies and our culture influence our way of seeing the world. How does he present this attack? Well let me give you an example. The other day I watched this film with a friend. He made quite a few comments but the most striking one was when he complained about how is it that someone as unattractive as Seymour Moskowitz could get a woman as pretty as Minnie to like him(when you see the film you'll see). Now that is exactly the kind of attitude that Cassavetes is attacking. Why must everyone be 'handsome' or 'good looking' to be able to get a girl to like him? Minnie will constantly say to Seymour in the film that, "That's not the right face. You're not the man I'm in love with." It's a subtle attack but no less powerful. There's even one instance where Minnie, while in conversation with her friend, talks about movies as being a conspiracy because "They set you up. And no matter how bright you are you still believe it." This is a shining example of the fact that it is not enough to just recognise the problem, because it doesn't mean anything until you do something about it. There's a lot more, but I don't think it will be fun if I talked about everything. Part of the thrill of watching a movie like this is figuring it out. So I'll just talk about the 'surface' story a little bit more. A lot of people has called this movie 'earnestly real'. But don't be put off by that because like this world we live in, it's not all grim and grin. This isn't a Ken Loach film. While Cassavetes definitely does show us how ugly the world really is and can be, he has got enough insight to also show us that life can also be wonderful. I can give you a lot more examples, but I think it's best if you discover them for yourself. My comment here does not do justice to the movie. There's too much for me to say. And I don't think the space here allows it. So just go and see the movie. It'll be worth every minute.
- May 12, 2000
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