Show Me the Romance

No cherubs. No doilies. No crap.

Archive for the tag “2 arrow”

Movie Review: Possession (2002)

Movie (102 minutes, PG-13)
Based on the A. S. Byatt novel of the same name.
Starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart,
Jeremy Northam, and Jennifer Ehle

So I waded into the wilds of Netflix last night, intent on finding a good romance to share on this blog. Unfortunately, I failed miserably. Possession isn’t a bad movie per se, it’s just a bad romance.

The Premise

American research assistant Roland Michell (Aaron Eckhart) toils in the dusty backrooms of British libraries and museums until he finds a never-before-discovered love letter from a famous (fictional) Victorian poet named Randolph Henry Ash (Jeremy Northam). He soon discovers that Ash—famed for his fidelity to his wife—was actually having an affair with another poet, Christabel LaMotte (Jennifer Ehle, of 1995’s Pride & Prejudice). He enlists the help of fellow scholar Maud Bailey (Gwyenth Paltrow) to uncover the whole story of their affair. The movie flows seamlessly between the modern world and 1850’s England.

The Pain

Notice how I don’t mention much of a romance between Paltrow and Eckhart’s characters. That’s because there isn’t really one. They look at each other with awkward attraction, their kiss is kind of out of the blue, and nothing between the two leads me to believe that this attraction between them will last much beyond the inevitable publication of their findings. The scenes of passion and longing between the two Victorian poets resonates with far more authenticity, but again, since I don’t find affairs romantic, that didn’t really float for me either.

The Payoff

The poets’ words—shared while the modern characters read their letters and the poets think them—are quite beautiful and sound authentic to the era. I’m enough of a literary nerd that I enjoyed the process of tracking down these lost letters and the way the characters extrapolate clues from the diaries of people around Ash & LaMotte. Calling this a romantic thriller is a stretch on both fronts, but it’s my understanding that the book succeeds better on both counts.


2 out of 5 arrows


Movie Review: The Ugly Truth (2009)

The Ugly Truth
Movie (95 minutes, R)
Starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler

Not everything I review on Show Me the Romance will be Five Arrow knockouts. Case in point: 2009’s The Ugly Truth. It’s about as romantic as its name, and apart from a clever first half, it isn’t even particularly funny. With the exception of one scene, the film played like the dreck most “romantic comedy” entries are—all polish and no emotion. Romance fans aren’t fools, Hollywood. You give us characters who feel real, and a romance that feels right, and we’ll make you filthy rich. Anything else…eh, we’ll catch it when it appears on Netflix’s instant watch option, and only then when we have nothing better to do.

The Premise
Katherine Heigl plays Abby Richter, a scheduled-to-the-nines producer for a San Diego morning show. Her love life amounts to a string of failed blind dates, largely because she conducts third-party investigations into the guy’s background and then scours him with questions more suited to a Dateline interview than a date. When her TV station hires crass relationship cynic Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler) to boost ratings, he devastates Katherine’s preconceived notions of love, first by offending her to the point of fury, and second by proving to her she can’t plan her way through romance.

The Pain
Are we really feeling anything for these characters? It’s like “cue awkward moment” followed by “cue cute blushing awkward moment” and finishing up with “cue accidental tender moment.” While You Were Sleeping this ain’t.

The Payoff
There’s a raw kiss in an elevator that actually cuts beneath the layers of over-processed crap to show that maybe there really are emotions in play, but it’s over too fast and ends too cutsey-awkwardy to maintain the feeling.

Rating: 2 out of 5 arrows

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