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How Do You Know (2010)
Surprisingly fresh and lovely: respectful, sincere, and hopeful.
How many movies today actually promote respect?
James L. Brooks has directed another movie along the lines of As Good as It Gets and Spanglish, which leaves you with that "good feeling," but also a touch of introspection.
This film is clearly what is commonly known as a rom-com. And despite the fact that I am not easily won over by a genre which is often the least feminist or progressive type of film there is, I was charmed.
I was charmed by the fact that Reese Witherspoon wasn't melodramatic, and I am not typically a fan of this individual...in this case, she was perfect. I was charmed by the overall subtleties of friendship and the cross over of aging with maturity and knowing what you want.
But the biggest concept in this film that I liked was the idea that a man could find purpose not in trying to seduce a woman, but in respecting her. That he could find joy in treating her the way she genuinely deserved to be treated. Paul Rudd was phenomenal and believable in his role. Those expressions. Beautiful.
And the sincerity of Owen Wilson's character as he finally made steps towards caring about someone--finding out that he could do that in a positive, non-sweatshirt giving out sort of way (see the movie to understand). Wonderful. We've all dated this guy. It was great.
I also cannot leave out the stunning performance of the (in my opinion) often underrated Kathryn Hahn, who in many ways steals the show in every movie I've seen her in. She's not afraid to be human, and for that, she may never be the glossy celebrity we are so used to, but she's special. As Annie, she really gave the movie that vulnerability it needed.
There were so many moments in this movie that just really lit me up and gave me a deeper understanding of what it is to care about someone else, but not in a way which merely benefits oneself--in a way that is necessary and respectful.
While there were a few flaws, such as the somewhat loosely tied conclusions in regards to Jack Nicholson's role (seriously?!) or our curiosity in regards to what the main character's employment is other than going on dates and moving in and out of Owen Wilson's apartment, overall, this movie had a streak of feminism and genuine sincerity that I absolutely loved enough to write my first movie review. Well done.