Friday, October 2, 2009

The Accidental Husband (2008, Dunne)

As a rom-com lead, Jeffrey Dean Morgan has an immediate upper hand on the likes of Ryan Reynolds and Matthew McConaughey: he looks real. It’s not that he’s a particularly good actor – his range is tiny and stretches from bewilderment to glee – but he commands a physical presence that has something to do with flesh, not plastic (ever noticed how much Ryan Reynolds’ character in The Proposal [2009] resembles Bruce Willis’ android in Surrogates [2009]…?). Morgan’s brand of masculinity – a scruffier and beefier CliveOwenism, to be exact – is not a natural counterpart for Uma Thurman’s femininity (which lacks a vulgar edge necessary to challenge Morgan’s bravado). Still, Griffin Dunne plays these two nicely against each other in The Accidental Husband (2008).

Note: the movie was made one year before Morgan’s successful turn as the psychopathic Comedian in Zack Snyder’s Watchmen (2009) and only turns up in Poland a year too late.

Thurman plays Dr. Emma Lloyd, a radio celebrity advising (mostly) women to ditch any notions of romance they may yet nurture, and to settle for “a man of their reality” (instead of “a man of their dreams”). It’s a pragmatic, unrelenting philosophy, and when we see Thurman spelling it out in the opening sequence, she’s equal to her words. She seems to be fearlessly in command; she’s a pro at dismissing daydreams. It’s only until one of these enters her own life she becomes less defiant. Love is what weaklings are made of in this story of emotional recklessness unleashed.

It’s unnecessary to reveal how exactly Morgan’s character (a Queens fireman named Patrick) gets in touch with Emma – even though it probably counts as the most contrived rom-com premise ever to enter the genre. In fact, the movie is a mess in most respects, which is kind of sealed by including Isabella Rossellini and Keir Duella: two wanderers from the upper decks of Cinema, unsure of their roles but good sports nevertheless.

There’s one scene, though, that I loved and I can well recommend the whole movie for its sake. It takes place in a wedding parlor, and Thurman and Morgan are trying out different cakes with different frostings. They don’t know each other, but they happen to play the role of an engaged couple. They’re lying away to some bystanders about their great love, and suddenly – a great moment! – they wish their lies were true. It so happens, this is the very second that they become just that.

No comments:

Post a Comment