Down With Love (2003)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

USA/Germany, 2003.  Fox 2000 Pictures, Regency Enterprises, Jinks/Cohen Company, Mediastream Dritte Film GmbH & Co. Beteiligungs KG, Epsilon Motion Pictures.  Screenplay by , .  Cinematography by . Produced by , .  Music by . Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .

Renee Zellweger is delightful as a New York City writer whose new tome seeks to emancipate women from subservient roles and set them up as equals with their male counterparts. Essentially a remake combining Doris Day-Rock Hudson romantic comedies of the fifties and sixties and Sex And The Single Girl, this film is to Pillow Talk what Far From Heaven was to All That Heaven Allows, barring the fact that it has nowhere the amount of depth or brilliance that Todd Haynes’ instant classic had. On the other hand, that very fact is perfectly appropriate, for the Day-Hudson classics were always bubbly, frothy, shallow and unimportant, and the Natalie Wood comedy horrendously dated by the time it hit theatres, so this film fits the bill every adorable step of the way. After Zellweger publishes her mega-successful book Down With Love, which tells women to stop looking for love and marriage and start having sex ‘a la carte’ the way men do, she invokes the ire of a star reporter (Ewan McGregor) who works for a very successful men’s magazine. McGregor makes it his sworn and sole duty to dig the dirt on Zellweger and write an expose for his rag that exposes her as a complete fraud who, underneath her equality-seeking exterior, is really a housewife in the making (like any ‘normal’ woman). Masquerading as a simple, innocent NASA astronaut, McGregor woos Zellweger into believing that she loves him when the truth is all she wants is some quick action. The joke is that the original movies that are being spoofed are also being inverted: while Day always tried to keep Hudson’s sexual advances at bay (Jay Presson Allen called them the ‘DF’ movies for ‘Delayed Fuck: No Sex Before Marriage’), Zellweger is actually trying to get McGregor to use her in the sack and go nowhere near a marriage proposal. Meanwhile, all the minorities, both ethnic and sexual, who always appeared on the fringe in the originals are here brought further into the spotlight as a way to modernize the storyline in a totally tongue-in-cheek way (hoorah for gay interior decorators). The cast has a whopping good time paying tribute to the good old days, modelling their costumes with delicious aplomb and treating the dialogue like bonbons of a nostalgically remembered yesteryear. It’s not in any way an important movie, and perhaps won’t be completely satisfying to all, but it’s at least nice to see a movie that is totally up front and honest about its own frivolity. , a fixture in Pillow Talk and Send Me No Flowers, makes a very appropriate cameo appearance.

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