06 June 2006

The Break Up

Disclaimer: I love Vince Vaughn. I will, however, remain objective.

Despite the bad press it keeps getting, I saw The Break Up last Friday, opening day. And... I liked it.

Perhaps the critics and I weren't watching the same movie. The movie I saw was at times funny, at times really tough to watch, at times a little sad and maybe, once in a while, a little immature. What relationship, and more specifically, what break up, doesn't contain these elements?

It definitely strayed from the "chick flick" formula. There weren't really wacky hijinks, or slap knee funny pranks or a perfect ending. I know I cringed during many scenes. This movie made me uncomfortable. But what is so wrong with that?

If you haven't seen it, there may be some spoilers below. But who am I kidding...from the looks of the comments no one but me really reads this. Which is ok. Hello to those of you who are reading!

The one main flaw I can find is that I didn't feel too invested in these characters. They showed me how they met, and then a montage of pictures showed me how happy their relationship is at the start of the movie. But anyone can smile and look happy in pictures. No one is that blissful all the time, right? It is important to pay attention during the montage; it gives somewhat of a backstory. But, with only how they met and then these pictures to tell me about their relationship, I am unsure of why Brooke is with Gary, and what possessed her to by a house with him. He couldn't have changed THAT much once they moved in, could he? Was he doing dishes before?

The movie starts with a pivotal point in their relationship. She wants him to want to help, without him having to ask. Even outside of romantic relationships, this argument happens. From the mom who wants the kids to pick up their room without being asked time and time again, to the boss that wants her workers to think a step ahead and not always rely on her for the answers, to the friend who needs someone to know when they are needed, without being told. This is an ages old argument, and this scene rings so true. You can see Brooke putting together all the times she has wanted to say something, which has stayed bottled up for a long time but suddenly is at the surface. You can see Gary's defeat, his feeling that nothing he does is ever good enough, his wondering why he should even try. This scene, although peppered with VV's quick banter, is uncomfortable to watch. It is not what we usually see in the movies. And, for me, that is what makes it work.

The rest of the movie deals with the two of them, still loving each other, trying not to be the one who breaks. Eventually, they hurt each other enough that the damage seems permanent. The acting here is well done; you can see their pain, and the love they have still, but how they can't figure out what to do with those feelings. As they say goodbye, you can feel that this has defeated them.

Too often American movies are such a pretty package. The romantic comedy genre is afraid of the unhappy ending, afraid of not providing closure (unless there will be a sequel, which have been WAY overdone). The makers of this movie hastily slapped on a new ending, which you could tell. But, thankfully, they didn't sew things up. Gary didn't hunt Brooke down, pick her up and plant a big kiss on her; they don't go on their merry way. And that is ok. Much like a good book, I like that something is left to my imagination.

I don't know what the critics were expecting when they saw this movie. Were they looking for a critical masterpiece? Aren't romantic comedies, by their nature, a bit of fluff? Maybe that's it, there was a little too much reality. Maybe the critics didn't like it, but I did!

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