She Loves Me Not
(For anyone who’s wondering what a vignette is, think PULP FICTION, or LOVE ACTUALLY. It’s basically a film which breaks off into definable and separate plot-lines, in most cases, this therefore abolishes the need for one main character and/or plotline. On the whole this is a more common practice in television as it allows everyone to play a main role whilst still allowing room to focus on whatever the running theme is for that season; SOAPS are particularly terrible AT and FOR this. Anyway, back to the film…)
The stories revolve around a crime writer, Brady Olinson, more specifically they focus on – as the title would suggest – his love-life. Much like PULP FICTION, the films sections are given individual titles, the first is called ‘The Assistant’, the second ‘The Publicist’, and the third is ‘The Keeper’.
The Assistant kicks off with an introduction to a drunk and disheveled-looking Brady, who we learn is a successful – and obviously rich – writer, but divorced and living with his twenty-something editor, and aspiring writer, Charlotte. A beautiful young brunette, whom he is obviously in love with, but who, in turn, seems to be staying with him for lack of a better offer. When described in this way, it sounds as if I view Charlotte as some sort of manipulator, or scarlet woman, but I feel I should clarify, that’s not the case. Though Charlotte is taking advantage of Brady in the sense that she’s obviously more than comfortable staying in his large and luxurious house, eating his food, using his car, etc. Brady’s also taking advantage of her, as she’s kept in place by empty promises to pass her book on to book publishers, etc. In a sense, they’re both trapped in the same casual, yet slightly volatile, relationship that appears to truly fulfill neither of them, but I suspect they continue for the comfort and familiarity – though, as I’ve stated, Brady, at least, seems quite genuinely to love Charlotte.
I both like and dislike this section. On the whole it’s a great way to introduce the films themes, and to let the audience get to know Brady as the main character, with all his strengths and weaknesses. Also, if you must have three or more separate genres in a film, then it’s probably a good idea to start on the level playing field of drama, which this section is. However, the theme of unrequited love within films has been so thoroughly covered, and re-covered, that the whole thing just seems horribly cliched if approached now. The fact then, that this theme is hit upon, didn’t exactly thrill me, however, the gradual revelation of the casual relationship was intriguing enough to keep me interested, in spite of this.
The nature off the pairs relationship may also be the reason behind the chapter title ‘The Assistant’. No assistant makes an appearance within the piece – though it is briefly mentioned that Brady’s assistant is late, a point which seems to deeply irritate him – leading us to suspect that the title is actually referring to Charlotte’s sexual assistance of Brady (?).
The second chapter, ‘The Publicist’, is a suspense/thriller, and, though it though it did have an edge, which I quite liked. Karla (the housemaid) put me in mind of an Annie Wilkes-esque character (MISERY), both exciting, and a little bit disturbing, but overall the scene seemed to exist simply to clarify a few thing about Brady’s career and personal life, and I felt that these things COULD have simply been explained in the beginning and end chapters – IF they were slightly extended. Basically I think the film could have done without this part, it doesn’t seem to fit, and AGAIN with the unrequited love – my life! Okay, fair enough, it’s not Brady this time, it’s a member of his staff, but still… also, the scene may have been spiced up slightly if it was from Karla’s point of view – part of the beauty of vignette’s is that you can change the main character. However, this is something that the writer(s) and director didn’t take advantage of, luckily the overall film doesn’t suffer too much for this, it just gets a little boring in the middle.
The third chapter, ‘The Keeper’, is the rom-com, and is based around a Realtor (who’s selling Brady’s house for him) a buyer, and Brady’s romance with one of them who turns out to be his ‘keeper’, or ‘the one’ or whatever you want to call her – at least that’s the impression we’re left with. It’s everything you’d expect a rom-com (or Vince Vaughn) film to be basically. Brady spends most of this segment pointlessly chasing after a beautiful surgeon, who’s looking into potentially buying his house, before realizing: love was here all along.
I may sound slightly resigned when describing this section, but actually: I loved it! I love a good rom-com, great way to cheer yourself up on a rubbish day, but even so, it has to be admitted that the genre IS ridiculously repetitive, and predictable.
Overall, I liked this film, but I do have a slight query, and that is: “why a vignette?”
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like the style, I do. It’s just that, I don’t think it really work here, mainly because the filmmakers haven’t really done anything with it. Rather than using the style to break off into several competing stories, which could have then had their own genre’s and sub-plots (e.g. one following Charlotte to NYC, one following Kara through the legal system, and finally one following Amy and Brady) the story concentrates on the same character throughout, with the same running theme, and I just don’t think it works. It just seems wholly unnecessary.
If the chapters are there to act as a transition of passing time (sort of CAST AWAY-esque) then I can understand that. However, if they’re there for the reason I suspect, simply to act as a parameter for each of the genres, then again I have to ask why? I don’t really understand why the genres are approached in the way that they are, I mean, it’s certainly original, I can’t think of another film that’s used this tactic, but then, maybe there’s a reason for that…