Talking about RomComs

The weekend before last, I watched Eat Pray Love with a friend. She brought over a whole bunch of DVDs and I was supposed to pick one. Since I really am not the kind of girl that likes big action movies, because boring, and my dislike for Nicholas Sparks has been voiced a couple of times, I picked the Julia Roberts movie I hadn’t watched yet. And it was fine, I mean, it’s a romcom and really long but it’s not as terrible as Safe Haven or so. However I did have one major point of critique for Eat Pray Love and that was about the movie’s ending.

So basically Liz (Julia Roberts) spends 2 hours trying to figure out why she is unhappy in her life and especially in her marriage. According to the movie, she went from one boyfriend to the next since she was a teenager but she never really found herself so she goes on this trip to learn about the kind of woman she is and that is all fine with me. I’m all for finding your inner balance and all but the movie, of course, ends with Liz falling in love because obviously.  So I tweeted my dislike for this because that’s how I roll. A couple of days later I get ‘schooled’ by one Eat Pray Love lover, apparently, telling me this is the way it was supposed to end since it’s based on a true story (that also was a book first, might I add) and you can’t change a true story.

Lol, okay. First of all, movies that are based on books that are based on true life experience can totally be changed, that’s why it’s called based on a true story. Not everything is true to books when it comes to movie adaptations. My inner Harry Potter nerd can tell painful stories of that but anyway. I can get behind this particular argument. I truly can.

My criticism was not specifically directed at that movie per se but at movies like that in general. It’s sometimes difficult to convey such things in 140 characters. I have just seen too many movies like that and this is not limited to movies, there are too many books like that as well. Just once I would like a romcom movie/book to end with the heroine riding into the sunset alone because she realized she can be happy on her own. At least for a good part or her life, especially if she spent most of her previous years running after men. My remark was countered with: But that’s what people want to see! But is it really? Is it?

Of course I am not immune to the good happily ever after storyline but it’s not like we get to choose this. There just aren’t many books and movies that end in such a way. Maybe if we were given the chance, people would actually enjoy watching them. Just like every male/female lead duo on television is pittied against each other in some form of will-they-won’t-they dynamic and it gets old fast. Judging from the frequent conversations I’ve had with my internet friends I feel confident saying, I’m not alone in this. It’s not like I’m saying this should be the case all the time in every movie, but how about once in a while? I find this sort of thing especially annoying when the story is basically all about a woman finding herself without a man and after she has done so, she has to fall in love because that’s how it goes. Love finds you when you’re not looking blah blah blah.

Maybe you could say I sound bitter but at least I can be on my own. I have no problem with silence and I can also take care of a lot of handy tasks because I had to and I think that’s a valuable lesson to learn. Just because a story ends without a big love pay off, doesn’t mean the character will stay alone forever, but just that she doesn’t need a man to fill some void in her life. It’s not like we see the full spectrum of their lives anyway, just a small part of it and who knows what comes after.

Is all this really too much to ask for?

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  • I agree completely, and this makes me want to rewatch Under The Tuscan Sun again, because it’s among the only romcom-types that i can think of at the moment that ends like that ( I think. It’s been YEARS since I’ve seen it, so i may be forgetting something…). As someone who has recently had that “self-discovery life changing empowerment” thing happen for reals, I’d freaking LOVE to see more women choosing to be complete and happy on their own, like I am. I’d say more, but i think it would quickly turn into a off-topic rant at the moment, so that’s it for now. :-)

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      Oh, I haven’t seen that one, maybe I should look it up then :-)

      No worries about off topic rants but okay. My entire life has been an exercise in self-discovery and empowerment :D

    • YES, Under the Tuscan Sun! The only other one I can think of off the top of my head is Jennifer Connolly’s storyline in He’s Just Not That Into You. But that’s less by choice and more “my husband is a cheating bastard and now I have to start over”…

      • Wilhelmina Upton

        I saw the movie and was utterly bored with it. I actually watched it wtice, once because of Jennifer Aniston and then again because of Sasha Alexander. Clearly I have priorities but the movie was definitely not worth it imo.

        • I mentioned this topic to my mum, and she immediately thought of two more (older) movies to add to the list of ‘woman doesn’t need a man’: Shirley Valentine (the British film, not the stage play), and Baghdad Cafe. :-)

          • Wilhelmina Upton

            Bless your Mom :-)

          • She said they are two of her all-time favorite movies, sharing that rank with King of Hearts: another older movie which you should totally look up because there’s nothing else like it. Not the same category of ending, but just as original.

  • This is a big part of why I buy a copy of Robert Munsch’s The Paperbag Princess for all my friends who have daughters. Because not only does she defeat the dragon on her own, but when the Prince is all “Ew, you’re gross looking” on account of she’s wearing a paperbag, she goes “Okay, cool, you’re a douchebag!” and skips off into the sunset alone. Hands down my favourite book when I was about five.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      I have not heard of that book but it sounds great and yes. Every little girl should read such things.

      • Vanessa

        Paperbag Princess is such a classic, I love it for the same reasons. Such a great example, from years ago too, of a female character getting shit done by herself.

  • I hate this fucking film (and the book) from the bottom of my heart. Not just for the regressive, pseudo feminist crap (in my understanding of my feminism anyway); but for the really terrible saviour complex that runs through the text, and the horrid; horrid exoticisation and othering of cultures/contexts she has no bloody idea (or interest in, really) about.
    /end rant.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      I would never have picked this up as a book because the premise is just a lot of hogwash to me. My biggest problem was when she was in India in that weird spiritual retreat and even before when she was still in New York talking about it. It just didn’t sit right with me.
      I hated that she ended with being in love, I hated her being so dependant on it. It was still better than Safe Haven imho.