Laziness and complacency in screenwriting were never more apparent than in the latest Ginnifer Goodwin romcom. A potent internal conundrum of conflict for Goodwin’s character is wasted with dumbed down characterizations, diffusing the film of all substance.
Something Borrowed (2011) dir. Luke Greenfield
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson, Colin Egglesfield, John Krasinski, Steve Howey, Ashley Williams
By Alan Bacchus
Writer Jennie Snyder, adapting Emily Griffin’s novel, has an audacious conundrum for her main character. Rachel (Goodwin), an underachiever in the romance department, has been in love with her law school buddy, Dex (Egglesfield), for years. Unfortunately, her sexually adventurous bombshell of a best friend, Darcy (Hudson), already scooped him up years ago. Now they’re set to be married with Rachel as the maid of honour. But when some kind of romantic spark randomly hits Rachel and Dex after her birthday party, they sleep together, thus bringing to the fore years of suppressed desires and many complications.
While there's a romance going on between two souls seemingly destined to be together, at odds with these desires is a strong lifelong friendship – a relationship that goes back much longer than the romance. This is the stuff of great drama.
Like the indecisiveness of Hamlet, Rachel continues to see Dex, undercover of Darcy, and though she knows she has to tell her friend, she just can’t do it. It’s the same with Dex, who reciprocates all romantic signals but just can’t decide between Darcy and Rachel.
The guts of this situation are that it’s a zero-sum game. Rachel can’t get Dex without losing Darcy, and if she keeps Darcy’s friendship, she can’t be with Dex. Unfortunately, Rachel and the audience are immediately let off the hook from her indiscretion by Darcy’s cardboard characterization as a self-centred, shallow bitch, who cares little for Rachel’s needs. We quickly learn that despite 20+ years of friendship, Darcy is a terrible friend, unworthy of Rachel.
By portraying Darcy with such disdain, there’s no real decision for Rachel to make. The situation is no longer a zero-sum game. The choice is obvious, thus robbing the audience of Rachel’s internal conflict. And without any sense of realism or colour, Hudson simply becomes set dressing.
I understand why she was written this way. It’s easier, plain and simple. Writing Darcy as a cliché antagonist bitch is like putting together Ikea furniture. Even on Dex’s side, his parents are portrayed as money grubbing stuck-up assholes who tell their son not to do what’s right, but what’s expected.
Perhaps the biggest insult goes to John Krasinski’s character, who represents the ‘Ducky’ (from Pretty in Pink) character. He’s the barely-straight best friend who has loved Rachel all along but has never expressed his feelings. In the end, when he confesses his secret crush to Rachel, he’s so easily dismissed and discarded by Rachel. The moment is meant to get Rachel to finally make her decision and tell Darcy the truth about her feelings. But instead, it represents the tragic irony of this movie – opportunities lost with lazy screenwriting.
Something Borrowed is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Home Entertainment.