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Saturday, January 22, 2011

"No Strings Attached"

I saw this movie tonight, and really enjoyed it. It was funny and sexy; very grownup without being crude just for the sake of it (like so many rom-coms these days).  It totally exceeded my expectations.

So I'm reading some user reviews on imdb, which mostly bitch about the movie being formulaic (why they should be surprised by that is a bit of a mystery to me) when I saw this:

"Natalie Portman is OK in this role, but not great. She might be getting a little too old to play the young chick role. Ashton does remarkably well, and we will enjoy seeing him in many more roles if he avoids the 'all looks and no acting ability' horde of current young actors. I hope he gets good guidance during his formative acting years."

Ashton is 3 years older than Natalie, and has been in over 20 movies, and a popular TV show that ran for several season - his reputation is firmly establish and he can hardly be described as in his "formative" years.

But it's the line about Natalie being to old for the "chick" role that really annoyed me. This guy doesn't like "all looks no ability" performances, but when an award-winning actress shows up, all he comments on is her age. (She's 29 - exactly the age of the character she's portraying!)

Both Natalie and Ashton were terrific in this movie, and they elevated the material, which was already pretty good, by their charming performances. Of course this poster is entitled to his opinion, but he looks like an idiot with these remarks.

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Then I read some commentary from a writer of a sex column, who starts by discussing what the movie is supposed to be:

"Paramount is clearly pushing this film, not as just another romantic comedy about women hunting for marriage and men succumbing to its sweet inevitability, but as a daring, edgy, ultra-modern exploration of the 'new' relationship models: casual, non-romantic, commitment-free sexual friendships, in which both women and men go in with no expectation of a capital-R Relationship, and no desire for it."

This description is basically ridiculous, because the movie is, in actuality, pushing a completely conventional relationship model.  The only unconventional aspect of the set-up is that the commitment phobe (who of course comes around) is the female lead rather than the male.  She is the one who insists on "no strings attached" while the male lead is smitten almost immediately and struggles to play the game by her rules.  Even his friend, who encourages him to enjoy this sex-without-love arrangement, begins a serious (and ultra-traditional) romantic relationship halfway through the movie.  Emma's sister also voices traditional views, insisting that her youthful marriage is the obvious choice when she is so in love with her partner.  Unlike Greta Christina, the writer of this critique, I found it charming, even if the studio performed a major bait-and-switch with it's advertising.



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