Down With Love


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

You can imagine Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant picking up on this one and having fun with it. Times change.

Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor are in full pastiche mode, which is a different skill, more like charades. They are pretending to be people they don't understand, performing in a style that doesn't suit them and sticking to a script that is so flakey, it falls apart just looking at it.

The director Peyton Reed is attempting a mixture between a Stanley Donen tribute, a Thirties romantic comedy and a Broadway musical without songs. The performances are deliberately styalised and the set pieces intentionally camp. David Hyde Pierce, as a second generation magazine publisher, who is ineffectual in business and romantically all in a twist, comes closest to the spirit of the piece.

Although supposed to be the early Sixties, there is nothing of a burgeoning social revolution, nor even the whisper of Elvis Presley or James Dean in the wind. This could be the set for Funny Face, not a breeding ground for potential civil rights marchers.

Barbara Novak (Zellweger) has written a book, called Down With Love, which might be considered a feminist tract. It tells women to stand up for themselves, do what they want, but don't, under any circs, allow love to poison their judgement. Men, she implies, are a waste of space, except as sexual toys, and should be kept in the closet. Naturally, the book is a best seller.

Catcher Block (McGregor) is New York's leading lads mag star writer. Known as "a ladies man, a man's man, a man about town," his philandering exploits are legendary. He places a bet with his boss that he can make the ice queen fall in love with him and, therefore, expose her theories as bunkum. Naturally, he will write about it afterwards.

Zellweger is giggly and pouty and dolled up in a series of fashionably out of date suits. McGregor is smiley and smarmy and decidedly lightweight. His fluffy dialogue does not help.

The foolishness of the plot is no hinderance. Some of the best romantic comedies from the past have absurd storylines. What the film needs is a style of its own, rather than a collaborative copy of other people's. Even the chemistry doesn't work.

Reviewed on: 02 Oct 2003
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Pastiche comedy romance about a philandering journalist and a feminist best selling author.
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Director: Peyton Reed

Writer: Eve Ahlert, Dennis Drake

Starring: Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Sarah Paulson, David Hyde Pierce, Rachel Dratch, Jack Plotnick, Tony Randall

Year: 2003

Runtime: 101 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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