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Romantic Chemistry – A Lost Cinematic Art?

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 3:42 am - November 3, 2005.
Filed under: Movies/Film & TV

Just returned from the movie Prime and while there is much to commend in that flick, some smart dialogue, Meryl Streep‘s brilliant portrayal of a bright Jewish psychotherapist caught in a complex situation, the movie didn’t hold together all that well. For the second night in a row (last night it was Shopgirl), I saw smart flicks where I just didn’t believe the relationship between the romantic leads. While Bryan Greenberg was quite fetching as Dave (in Prime), he just didn’t seem to connect with Uma Thurman, Rafi, his love interest.

Last night, I didn’t believe that either Ray (Steve Martin) or Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman) had fallen for Mirabelle (Claire Danes). (That said, there were elements in that story that really intrigued me and I’m likely to buy the book.) Today, it seems that the greatest problem in movie romances is that the leads don’t match. This is true for gay as well as straight love stories. Last December, I found that the gay romance in Oliver Stone’s Alexander fell flat because “there wasn’t much chemistry” between Colin Farell and Jared Leto, playing lovers Alexander and Hephaistion.

Good chemistry between the (romantic) leads can make up for flaws in the script, as in The Trip, one of my favorite gay flicks. We see this is straight movies as well. Although I found the script for Two Weeks Notice kind of weak, I quite enjoyed the film because I believed Hugh Grant had fallen for Sandra Bullock (and vice versa). Most film buffs overlook the flaws in The Big Sleep and To Have and Have Not because of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall‘s palpable romantic sizzle. And even the worst of the Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy comedies come alive in the scenes when they’re on screen together.

While the major flaw in Prime was the absence of chemistry between Thurman and Greenberg was the major flaw in Prime, another irritant the movie’s portrayal of its the gay characters–they were all effeminate. I did a crack a smile when one of those characters was identified as a Republican, but he seemed defensive about his politics, saying it was only about the tax issue.

All that said, I might be faulting the movie less had I believed the love story more. Meryl Streep once again proves why many people consider her “the greatest living film actress.” And Uma Thurman delivers a touching performance as a woman in her late thirties who falls for a guy in his early twenties. I just wish directors would pay as much attention to the relationship between the actors in their movies as they do to their talent.

-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com

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4 Comments

  1. I felt the same way at Elizabethtown. It was written as a quirky romance but the casting was so A list that it totally blew away the premis. Orlando is not up to screwball outrageousness. He is pretty and he is dull.

    Comment by chandler in hollywood — November 3, 2005 @ 1:19 pm - November 3, 2005

  2. I saw this movie over the weekend and thought it charming. Perfect matinee fare.

    My biggest problem is in how the movie was marketed. All the trailers indicate it’s a big screwball domestic comedy a la Meet the Parents. I would have been happy to see that movie as Meryl Streep is an hilarious comedic actress in addition to all her dramatic work and Uma Thurman is also one of my favorite actresses.

    I was happily suprised that it was a much more serious and introspective movie and less the fluff, however charming, I expected. It’s a shame that studios have to pander to the lowest common denomentator for a chance at recouping money spent on good films and the danger comes with the quick word-of-mouth dropoff for people who were not happy to be duped into seeing something of a more melancholy tone than they expected.

    And actually, being in a relationship with someone 9 years my senior, I think the movie was a pretty good impression of the dynamics surrounding that kind of relationship.

    Comment by gaycowboybob — November 3, 2005 @ 1:36 pm - November 3, 2005

  3. We do agree on something, Chandler. Orlando is pretty, but dull.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — November 5, 2005 @ 2:11 am - November 5, 2005

  4. [...] RELATED: Romantic Chemistry — A Lost Cinematic Art? [...]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » Absence of Chemistry: A Death Knell to Believable Screen Romance — October 2, 2009 @ 5:18 pm - October 2, 2009

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