Happy Endings

(With apologizes to dj and boolise, who probably think some of this is repetitive (:)

Is it odd that one of the more interesting "romantic comedies" of recent years is actually a music video? I think I partially love this because it makes such good use of Samaire Armstrong, The OC's Anna, and it's a nice reminder that with her big eyes, screwy smile and bohemian charm, she's a movie star waiting to happen (if the enjoyably slight Lindsay Lohan comedy Just My Luck had made Armstrong the lead instead of the sidekick, that might have launched her on the big screen; at the very least, it would've been a better movie). But I also love the use of jigsaw puzzle split screens, and the central image of the changing marker drawing, as if to suggest we can write our own happy endings.

But I think it also raises interesting questions about the form, and its relationship to a genre many have recently suggested is exhausted (despite indie romances like Something New and Once, fine films which are sometimes overlooked by critics who insist on defining the genre strictly through Meg Ryan). One advantage the music video has is its brevity, which forces it to, in the words of Roland Barthes, "write what I like right away": what we get here is a compressed "meet-cute," shorn of so many of the romcom's narrative tics: hokey dialogue, forced interactions (which lead to love, which forces a mid-film twist that wrenches the couple apart, only to bring them back together, etc.), dopey secondary couples and/or best friends, and cliched soliloquies about love that read like a ninth-grade creative writing exercise ("here's my theme!"). The music video's producers/directors have instead offered us only the essentials: faces, music, movement, color and longing. And it's not even long enough for us to grow tired of it (although we might grow tired of the song). In the future, will every romantic comedy be famous for 3 minutes and 47 seconds?


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