Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Heartbreak Kid (1972, Elaine May)

This is a very dark comedy about a newly wed falling in love on his honeymoon was a big surprise to me. I would have not expected such a dark and mean spirited story from a film that seems to be just a romantic screwball comedy on the surface. Instead, in this film characters suffer for their consequences and everything is grounded in reality. Unlike most comedies where characters seem to say just the right thing at the right time, The Heartbreak Kid presents characters who sometimes just don't know what to say at certain times. We are instead presented with awkward and uncomfortable scenes comedy which in turn become more hilarious and charming because it gives the sense of truly being grounded in this sad reality where characters like this exist. It is a charm to see the kind of humor that would only become popular 30 years later.

The other main thing worth pointing out is Charles Grodin's outstanding performance as the newly wed. Any other actor might have made the character seem like a self centered asshole but Grodin is able to make the character into a guy we truly feel bad for. Sure, he is still a jerk, but we at least understand his actions. Whats more impressive is that Grodin does all of this with in his subtle body movements through out the film.

Instead of being a comedy of errors, The Heartbreak Kid becomes a comedy of consequences. There is no redemption, there is no uplifting charm, there isn't even hope for a great future. It really is as dark as they come. Even in the final scene of the film which ends in a very artistic and unique way the audience is left thinking of what will really become of these characters. It really is one of my new favorite scenes and it is perfectly executed with just some silence and great acting.

Now I cant wait to see how the Farrelly Brothers will screw it all up. Just judging by the trailer they will most likely make the character funny and charming and take away the dark nature of it all. Which in turn will just be taking away what makes this film stand out to other romantic comedies. It will be a shame but I cant say that I will be surprised.

- A

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