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  xFriday, May 09, 2003

(continued from the previous post)

The equivalent in TTACAD is the scene in which Brian and Abby talk the phone all night; that event leads to an, um, different kind of intimacy; in a later scene, Noelle and Chaplin go to bed, but Noelle later confesses to Abby that she couldn’t go through with it; she knows of Abby’s feelings, and believes it isn’t right for her to move in on Brian. This issue is more important, and explored much more overtly, in the film whose protagonists are female. (In the original play, the 11th-hour marriage of Christian and Roxanne is never consummated.)

There’s another interesting contrast between the rival characters of Chris and Noelle. Thurman at first agrees to stand in for Janeane Garofalo’s Dr. Abby Barnes only reluctantly, but finds herself attracted to Ben Chaplin’s character Brian because he treats her with respect and presumes that she’s intelligent, clever, and witty. In other words, being around Chaplin makes Thurman feel smart, and that sensation motivates her interest in him. By contrast, the titular Roxanne’s intelligence clearly intimidates the hell out of Chris; it’s obvious that he’s never going to be able to enjoy True Love with her.

The concept of a triangle is a venerable device in romantic comedies. Well-written ones (The Philadelphia Story, While You Were Sleeping) make the triangle a genuine dilemma; poor ones simply use the presence of a romantic rival as a convenient plot point to keep the protagonists apart, discarding them as soon as it’s expedient. Indeed, modern romantic comedies seem to delight in making the rival as unpleasant as possible, so there’s little second thought when he or she is tossed aside, although one wonders what the protagonists are doing with them in the first place. (I caught the end of The Wedding Planner, which uses this very construct to explain why Mathtew McConaughey’s character leaves his fiancée – a person he’d already committed to spend the rest of his life with – for Jennifer Lopez. All right, it’s Jennifer Lopez and all, and I’m sure the script explained how They’re Right For Each Other. But ultimately it’s the fact that the fiancée is a b---h that makes it all OK, you see…still, I’d always wonder about someone who dropped a fiancée at the very last minute for me.)

(continued in the next post)





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