Chic-Flick Trailers

Thursday, February 5, 2009

THE CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE: Nancy Meyer's The Holiday! Get swept away in a new kind of romance

The rom-com is a comedy with a romantic plot, right? But while trying to fit some of the best romantic comedies into this category I had some trouble. What about movies, called rom-coms in the media and even by their filmmakers, that don't seem to fit the mold. Take movies like The Holiday, P.S I Love You, Under the Tuscan Sun and The Lake House. If you take away the romance you don' have a comedy and it wouldn't be classified as such by critics or reviewers. So what do you do with these movies that have comic elements but have just as much, or arguably more, drama? Characters are divorced or widowed, have serious relationship problems, or have been rottenly cheated on. The rom-com has usually strayed from these ideas because of the intensity revolving around their conflicts. Is there a new form of chic-flick being developed by writers and directors or is it just the progression of the common romantic comedy into a new, more complex, form? All I do know is that these movies are different and I have decided to take a note from chick lit. and call them, The Contemporary Romance.

Another difference in this meta sub-genre are the roles of the secondary characters which are fantastically represented by The Holiday's cast. Not only are the main characters more complex and better developed but the secondary characters are more integrated into the plot with complexities of their own. Eli Wallach's Arthur has his own storyline about Old Hollywood that brings warmth and a lot of fun to the entire plot. Who would have thought a storyline beyond the predictable and mostly disappointing will-they-won't-they plot? It's pure genius and if that doesn't convince you of the new road this genre is taking than I'm not sure anything will.

Unfortunately the critics didn't completely agree with me and mostly complained about why this "romantic comedy" was over the 2 hour mark. You think that would have clued them in that this wasn't what they were expecting. Unfortunately, Ebert was having health problems when this movie debuted and was not able to tell all the critics featured on Yahoo! Movies that they have no idea what they're talking about. But I digress. What I really respect about this new development is that it is creating the Breakfast at Tiffany's and Roman Holiday's of our generation. Women can recognize and relate to a positive portrayal of a romantic storyline. All of the "in the olden days" and "when I was young" will no longer be the place we go for a decent story to sweep us away; it is now being explored in our own century giving women hope in their own, current love lives. I might call movies like these romantic dramas, but I realized I couldn't because, for some reason, dramas can't seem to have a happy ending, especially romantic ones.

Some surprises are from, usually, one of my least favourite actresses,
Cameron Diaz. I'm sure you'll understand at the very beginning of this movie but don't let that discourage you. As the movie progresses, so does she. By the end she even has one pretty great scene in her limo before she goes gallivanting back to the English cottage, with a dramatic soundtrack behind her. Jack Black, an unusual leading man as Miles, is funny but in a mild, subtle sort of way that we have never seen before. He is just the nicest guy around who isn't treated the same. This different kind of leading man doesn't disappoint. Jude Law is perfection (and probably the most beautiful I have ever seen him). He seems like a player but stay tuned for an interesting development in his character Graham, that gives him real depth. This movie takes its leading men very seriously and thank god for that!

The biggest difference is the quality of the writing; it is just better than the mostly underachieving rom-coms. Nancy Meyer, writer, director and producer, is fantastic, bringing witty dialogue, interesting characters and original plots to the table. And the best thing about better writing is the quality of actors that become interested in these projects. I know I might still be battling with the skeptics, so chew on this: Hilary Swank (two-time Oscar winner), Kathy Bates (Oscar winner), Kate Winslet (multiple Oscar nominee), Jude Law (Oscar nominee), Diane Lane (Oscar nominee), Sandra Oh (Emmy nominee and Golden Globe winner) and Edward Burns (multiple award winning director and writer). I give all the credit to this new, improved and overall better genre to the writers who challenge themselves to make better films.

Other people agree: I will prove I am not the only one who believes a separate genre must be created for these movies. Check out comments from fearabdloathing155 and djagoon on the IMDB boards.
Best independent woman moment: Poor Iris makes some serious mistakes in her love life and is lured into a twisted, self-destructive relationship with evil Jasper Bloom (
Rufus Sewell). It's true, she's smart, talented and independent woman, so why is this happening to her? But there is justice, and man is it sweet!
Best love story: Iris and Arthur. What's wonderful about Winslet's storyline is that half of her love story is with a man who makes her fall back in love with herself. Arthur teaches her
gumption which opens her up for a love story with Miles. It's a give and take relationship and she also gives him the opportunity to experience something that has been a long time coming.
Best performance: Kate Winslet as Iris, who borders on pathetic in her love life but always seems to stay empathetic. She doesn't shy away from her characters complexities but embraces them her performance is better for it. Even though there were moments when I wanted to slap her, mostly I just wanted to give her a hug. Keep an eye out for her best scene as she pours her heart out to Miles after she sees a bit of herself in him.
Chemistry level: 5/5. I believed it all. Even the first and only scene between brother and sister, Iris and Graham, was completely natural. Especially well done to Black and Winslet for creating a subtle chemistry between their characters.
Setting the Mood: The music, including the score, soundtrack and Black's piano improvisations, really stands out. It adds to what I believe is the "take-you-away" factor. The setting was stunning in both ideal locations: the English countryside and upscale Hollywood L.A. What more could a girl want. An interestingly, there are no cops, doctors or lawyers in this cast. Meyer's must know the way to movie-goers hearts by creating characters with different and interesting careers. Check out the "Amanda trailers" in the film featuring the voice of the movie-trailer guy (the guy who voices, if not all, then most of the trailers in Hollywood).


  1. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!
    I absolutley LOVE The Holiday, Vanessa! And I normally dislike Chic-flicks. The characters and their chemistry are unreal, especially Iris. I bawl my eyes out everytime and say to myself, "this damn movie" but I love it all the same!!!!!

  2. And Jude Law and I are dating, in case I forgot to mention....It's getting pretty serious too. haha!

  3. Well thanks for contributing another reason this movie is beyond anything a regular rom-com or chick flick could be! Even non-believer like it! I agree completely, it's one of my fave movies ever.
    p.s- You're a lucky, lucky girl!

  4. Hey Vanessa!
    I really like your blog so I have given it the Superior Scribbler Award on my blog:)

  5. I loved this movie. I don't usually care for romantic comedies and find them stupid and shallow with lame writing. But this is one of my faves!

    - Cesia.

  6. Thanks Vanessa! You're the best!

    It's great to know non believers love this movie too. Thanks for the comment, Cesia!