erasing clouds

Colorful, Flavorful Love: Down With Love

by joseph palis

This film made me smile widely and grin from ear to ear. Its an explosion of colors and music and dialogue. I like this one, and even if I am itching to compare it to Pillow Talk, I won't, because this film, even if it obviously nods to the early-1960s films of Rock Hudson and Doris Day, has its magnetic and charismatic elements that I didn't associate with the bubblegum-eyecandy movies of that period.

Ewan McGregor as Catcher Block perfectly nailed the swagger and the insouciance of the character, plus he has this depth/range that can automatically change the tenor of the film with a look. Remember that scene when he left Ms. Novak's swank office and he started counting to test if his mettle is still effective with women. That look he gave when he realized he may not be as legendary as he was before was strangely honest and vulnerable. Too honest for this campy movie that revels every opportunity it gets.

I also like Renee Zellweger here as Ms Novak. She is beguilingly believable. There are cases where she looks a tad chubby than Ewan McGregor (or was McGregor a tad thinner than usual?), and they have onscreen chemistry. The split-screen moments that had Catcher and Novak doing calisthenics that resembled kinky sex when viewed as a whole uninterrupted picture was laugh-out-loud hilarious. Zellweger seems to have perfect comic timing too. I am not sure Meg Ryan can do what Zellweger did in this movie. Or for that matter, if she can play Ms Novak.

David Hyde Pierce perfectly and ironically embodied the loose uptightness of his character. He is at his delirious best when he spits out funny lines with a poker face. And Sarah Paulson? She was the perfect foil (I am tempted to say counterpoint) to Zellweger's and Hyde Pierce's characters. Sometimes she looked like Ruth Buzzi but her winning ways prevented further comparisons wih that tragic comic.

And did I tell you about Marc Shaiman's syncopated and uproarious musical scoring? Talk about really scoring for the movie in all its minute details. It was appropriately grand and cheekily musical. Shaiman even appeared as the pianist in the film's end when credits were rolling and McGregor and Zellweger were singing this song that legendary performer Judy Garland sang in one of the film's funniest montage.

Despite the delightful inane-ness of the movie, the dialogue strains a bit. It comes out heavy-handed for those whose idea of a romantic comedy were films done by Nora Ephron (and usually starring the super sell-out Meg Ryan) and not Preston Sturges. And the duller moments are easily felt because of the frivolity of the previous scenes, but in the end, the winning and tongue-firmly-in-cheek tone of the film wins in the end. And wasn't Michael Buble the new crooner for this age? Naah, to quote Ms. Novak, that's too Establishment.

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