January 22nd: Down with Love


Release Date: 2003
Director: Peyton Reed
Why I picked this: Friends were in the middle of watching it and I joined in

Having never heard of this movie before watching it, I had no clue what to expect when I jumped into it. However, thanks to the movie’s musical score, colorful sets and costumes, and overall amazing production design, I was instantly sucked into the 1960s, or at least a quirky comedy movie made in the 1960s. The themes of love and feminism are demonstrated by Renée Zellweger’s character Barbara Novak, the author of a book called “Down with Love,” teaching women to enjoy sex without commitment and falling in love. Magazine writer and womanizer Catcher Block, played by Ewan McGregor, seeks to prove Novak to be the same as every other woman by attempting to attract her under the fictional identity of “Zip Martin” (featuring McGregor’s same fake southern from “Big Fish”). David Hyde Pierce portrays Block’s awkward and meek boss, as he attempts to start a relationship with Novak’s editor, played by Sarah Paulson. While Pierce is likable, I cared little about his subplot. As mentioned, the score really gets you into the mood, and the performances from the two leads are energetic and quirky. It might be too much for some moviegoers, but there’s definitely some charm to this caricature of the 1960s. Zellweger probably gives the best performance, and has a large chunk of revealing dialogue at the end that is greatly delivered. The dialogue overall is well crafted, featuring double entendres reminiscent of ones in early sex comedies. However, something happens near the end of the story that at first confused me, and for the rest of the movie, it is difficult to pinpoint the motivations and the thoughts of the characters. Their actions made little sense to me, and I found the last ten minutes or so to be dragging. By the time the movie ended, I was confused on what the movie was trying to say.

The movie’s quirkiness may be too much for some people, but it is unmistakably well made due to its visual elements, music, and dialogue. However, the story falls apart near the end.


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