Romeo, Save Me Indeed.

Fairy tale endings only seen on the big screen with the hero climbing onto a balcony to get the girl, literally climbing on an old building using equally old and fragile vines to get to the girl, and prince charming riding in on a gallant stallion, and again, I am speaking very literally here. God help us all, right?

I’ve probably ruined it for you if you haven’t watched it. But really, can you ruin a Rom Com? I mean, is there any unpredictability in Rom Com’s At All?

Letters to Juliet follows the strict regime of the classic Rom Com formulae and Rom Com plot guidelines.

One part witty conversation, one part good looking leads who are at odds with each others ‘warped’ point of view, one part cheesiness and voila! You have yourself a Rom Com.

Ad then theres the plot guideline that film makers follow vicariously, or more specifically, the romantic comedy formulae penned by Billy Mernit, author of the screenwriting textbook Writing the Romantic Comedy :

There’s first the Introductions, where we see the main characters and see what’s missing in his/her life. What the main conflict will be. In letters to Juliet, we see this girl who wants to write but settles for fact checking and a fiancé who seems more in love with his cooking/restaurateur career than he is in love with her.

And then we carry on to all the different parts of the plot, the Sexy Complication, the Hook, the Swivel, the Dark moment, et cetera until we reach the big finale, the Joyful Defeat, where the audience sees the big reconciliation between the characters that reaffirms how important the relationship is to them, usually (but not always) with a happy ending that implies marriage – but usually at the cost of something the main character has had to sacrifice.

It’s funny because it’s always all about emotions. And the events that serve as ways to bring out or affect the said emotions. And the need the other person meets specifically in the main character. When I see a movie that’s obviously trying to use this structure and not making it work, it’s generally a problem of not having developed the characters well enough.

Like Confessions of a Shopaholic, I never got the sense of what her need was supposed to be. I mean, yeah, she was an insane shopaholic, and the detriment of her happiness depended on her shopping and buying stuff, but I never really got the sense that there was any carnal deficit that had to be filled by the him specifically. And there was no indication of how he was uniquely that guy who was suited for her.

And there are countless other similar examples, 27 dresses, The Proposal, 17 Again, and you know, the list goes on.

So with all that said, I really felt that Letters to Juliet only did alright. Didn’t find it any mind blowingly original obviously, seeing as it followed the formulae religiously. There were moments of unpredictable punches thrown at you, one or two, a smeckle here and there, and then there’s the witty conversation between the mains, which is something that is somehow always a must for Rom Coms.

What I had beef with though in the movie, was the whole “If I was Romeo” statement that the male lead spouted at some point. What I believe he said was, and I quote “I would have grabbed her from that blasted balcony and been done with it,” Contradictory, because he did absolutely no such thing. He didn’t grab her from the blasted balcony and be done with it. He WAITED for her to scale down that metaphorical balcony before he even considered doing any climbing or grabbing.

And then there was that grand gallant declaration on the balcony, “Because the truth is, Sophie, I am madly, truly, deeply, passionately in love with you,” Really now? Did you really need all those adjectives? A simple “Because I’m in love with you too,” would have sufficed. It takes the edge off the cheesiness and renders it sweet. But with the adjectives. Uh.. A little too much there, bub.

And, please please please can we have a movie that doesn’t involve some kind of desperate cross-town chase to reach the other person in the nick of time? There are other ways to create a good “he/she might lose the true love, just as he/she has realized it!” moment. It’s especially weak if it’s an artificial deadline. I mean, in Letters to Juliet, I found that there was no sense of REAL urgency. In both chasses.

The first, he chased her as she was going back to the not so loving arms of her fiancé. Not to the church to be wed, or the airport where she was to fly back home to her country, but just go back to their little cozy holiday where they’d been spending most of their time apart. He knew where that hotel was. And even if she was on the way home to New York, I’m sure he knew her address, they had managed to somehow send her the invitation to the wedding at the end of the day now didn’t they?

The second and final chase was when she for some reason burst into tears and darted from a wedding luncheon. Again, not really an urgent chase per se. And she was going to be staying in the same house him for the night. It’s not exactly a get her now or lose her forever situation.

And I would also, for once, like to not manage to magically acquaint myself with the cynical male lead more than the young, hopeless romantic female. Maybe that’s just my problem, but hey, a nice change once in a while to shake things up would be pleasant surprise, no? Have a Ted Mosby instead, and That I’ms sure would make things more interesting.

So Romeo, if you’re out there, please save me from these romantic cliches by being more original than that.

Just some of my thoughts. Because I’m lifeless as to watch and then ponder myself half to death with movies like that.

“What and if… Two non-threatening words that when put together can haunt you for the rest of your life.”
Letters to Juliet.

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