[MOVIE REVIEW]Light romantic comedy offers candy for the eyeWhat Bubble Yum does for your tongue, this movie does for your eyes. From one frame to another, meticulously planned structures of color and shape ― be it modernistic furniture or an ever-changing Jackie-style costume parade ― plentifully please your hunger for early- ’60s chic.
The film trumpets itself as a fashionable, lighter-than-air romantic comedy, paying homage to the Rock Hudson-Doris Day comedies of the 1960s. Unfortunately, to most Koreans, the thought of America’s ’60s draws a blank. They learned about the family-centered ’50s and, through abundant media coverage, caught on that drugs, feminism and casual sex burgeoned in the ’70s. But the 1960s? What was it ― maybe a transitional period? (Oh, wait. There were the Beatles.)
So, without the benefit of nostalgia, in the Korean market this film has to rely on its cotton-candy love story, whipped up with a fashionable edge and musical frosting.
Barbara Novak (Renee Zellweger) is in New York City to publish her book “Down With Love,” a pre-feminist manifesto on saying “no” to love and “yes” to career, empowerment and sex “a la carte.” To win over the old boys’ network at Banner Publishing, Barbara and her editor Vikki (Sarah Paulson) try to get Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor) ― ladies’ man, man’s man, man about town and ace journalist ― to cover her book. But thinking Barbara must be a man-hating, ugly spinster, Catcher blows her off.
Barbara and Vikki manage to promote the book to global bestsellerdom, and Barbara gets back at Catcher on a television program. Catcher decides to make Barbara fall in love with him, then write an expose about the “empowered woman” who was no different from the others in wanting love.
McGregor and Zellweger, who showcased their musical talents in “Moulin Rouge” and “Chicago,” here again take steps when walking and sing when talking. Though McGregor looks more like a young Frank Sinatra than Rock Hudson, he suavely portrays a ’60s playboy, doing much to help the audience put up with that deliberate pout on Zellweger’s lips. She seems to be trying too hard to look like a sweet ’60s girl, with her bony 21st-century figure.
Partly thanks to David Hyde Pierce, who gives a commendable performance as Catcher’s nervous and woman-shy publisher that recalls his role on “Frasier,” the movie is enjoyable, sailing smoothly in shallow waters, until it hits a snag toward the end. With a dumb effort to add a smart twist ― and retwist ― to the story, the movie turns shapeless right before its happily-ever-after closing.
One star for all the fashionable touches, another for McGregor and a half for the last-minute music video, in which McGregor and Zellweger shine brighter than they have throughout the film.
by Kim Hyo-jin
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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