Monday, June 13, 2011

The Romantics

A group of college friends is reunited over the wedding of Lila and Tom-- two members of the group. They were all inseparable and had a reputation for "incestuous dating" among themselves, hence the nickname "The Romantics." Now on the verge of thirty they have to face realizations about themselves and their relationships, most of which are not comfortable. For Laura, the maid of honor, it's especially difficult. She dated Tom all through college and on and off over the past few years. Not only does Laura have to confront her relationship with Tom, but her relationship with Lila.

This film has taken some serious hits from critics, but I believe there are worthwhile moments and performances. It does have some slow parts where the build-up within a scene seems to go nowhere. Unlike most movies that make it to the cinema, it moves at a novelistic pace (having been based on a book, this makes sense), allowing time for conversation and development of relationships.
The ensemble cast is fantastic. Katie Holmes, who I generally consider mediocre, puts a surprising amount of energy and emotion into Laura without becoming too theatrical. Anna Paquin plays the role of the repressed and slightly neurotic Lila. Josh Duhamel plays the conflicted, poet groom, Tom. Diana Agron, Malin Akerman, Jeremy Strong, Rebecca Lawrence, Adrian Brody, and Elijah Wood round out the group. The only performer that felt wasted was Candice Bergman, in the role of Augusta Hayes, Lila's mother.
After a long, strange night of searching, drinking, streaking, and poetic recitation, the friends must face the morning of the wedding. Though the ending is ambiguous, it has metaphorical overtones. It seems to represent the conflict that has dogged the characters. The fact is that sometimes not everything can be planned for and that the unexpected steps in. These "Romantics" like the romantic poets of old must appreciate the forces of nature. The setting of the film assists in that. Plenty of views of the sea and leaf strewn lawns create the backdrop for many key scenes.

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