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Where For Art Thou, Romcom?

Roslyn Hull

Also known as the Chick Flick, these once prolific, now gun shy, creatures were once well nurtured by movie executives out to make a quick buck.

However, a serious, rightly cynical and constantly informed world has made their kind near extinct. Now they are most likely to be found in a midday TV slot or on pay TV ‘Romance’ channels.

The death of convenient misunderstanding, tied up with a pink bow and attractive leads, should have happened years ago in movie scripts.

That it didn’t is not just the fault of lazy writing, it is also that there is still a big audience for happy endings. Romcoms are the Mills and Boons (millennials – Google it) of the digital era.

Almost as shameful as a bloke with a girlie mag.

It seems the only way thinking women will accept romance now is as a subplot with lots of gross fun and an empowerment story taking the lead. Bridesmaids is still in front here, with Bad Moms a close second. However, a couple of other attempts that shall remain nameless prove that gross humour alone is not enough.

The other reason to love a romcom (for me) was the fabulous fashion, at least one change per scene. But now we can watch a kick arse (literally in many cases) action movie like Atomic Blonde and get the same vicarious fabulousness with a side order of ‘she don’t need no man’!

So where to now for the endangered romcom?

We could tread the gentle English path of Hampstead, a sweet offering starring Dianne Keaton and Brendan Gleeson out next week. A lovely to look at film that will not offend anybody but may have a few twitching in their seats waiting for some action, drama or even (gawd help us) slapstick humour. It is a nice story, based on a real person, but the closest it gets to any dramatic high point is when people are really a bit impolite to each other.

Still, Fathers Day soon and you could take your grandparents to see it.

Or we could take a tentative step into the real world with The Big Sick. Not as gritty as a full-blown Indie film, this is again based on the true story (but it didn’t have a coma in it). The story is of lead actor and co-writer (with his real wife, Emily V. Gordon) Kumail Nanjiani’s real life cross-cultural romance.

It is funny, really funny. It’s slacker, it’s cute and ultimately really touching.

None of the lifestyles or careers or even fashion sense are enviable but it has such a big heart. I know that is a stupidly overworked phrase, but it does. I don’t even really like Nanjiani’s stand-up routines or his persona onscreen yet I could not help being delighted by the whole film.

The actors are all sincere but understated in their roles (except Holly Hunter, love her) and their natural manner made me even more involved in the story.

Funny, oddly romantic and worth seeing.

Roslyn saw The Big Sick and Hampstead courtesy of Limelight Cinemas Tuggeranong.

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Ros Hull

Roslyn is a writer and storyteller who loves all things Canberra, her family, sci fi and movies – but not in that order. She has worked in museum education since 2001 and has a passion for imparting knowledge to others. Writing is her happy place, particularly if there is a dog at her feet and a coffee in her hand. More about the Author

  • MST

    I saw Big Sick and Hampstead a week apart – agree with your perspective on both – The preview of Hampstead was an oversell IMO. Big Sick had more going for it – but unless you can get cheap tickets I would wait ….

  • Maddie

    I loved The Big Sick. Maybe I just saw it at the right time in my life, but I laughed and I cried and I just adored it. It’s not an Oscar winner, but it also lacks the self-consciousness of a film vying for an award, which worked for me.

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