Saturday, 2 October 2010

FILM REVIEW: Going The Distance

There’s no getting away from it – I absolutely adored this film! Usually I like to hold my opinions out until the end with reviews but with Going The Distance it’s just joy, joy, joy bursting forth. If you haven’t seen it already hopefully I’ll have convinced you by the end of this praise-fest. And get there quickly, it’s nearly disappeared from cinemas!

I’m very, very choosy when it comes to chick flicks. I think you’ve got to be (unless you really love all that clichéd gooey trash, in which case, what are you doing reading this blog?!) If it’s on the TV on a Sunday night I’d probably let you get away with it… but actively paying up to eight quid to go and see it on the big screen – you better get your money’s worth. Here’s a quick handy guide if you’ve been feeling let down recently:
  • Avoid films with Katherine Heigl in them.
  • Particularly if they start off with a couple hating each other, usually in flashy high-powered jobs.
  •  Avoid films involving pregnancy/conceiving/insemination/birth/screaming toddlers. Angsty teenagers are sometimes tolerable. 
  • If it’s “from the producers of a shit film!” learn that a leopard never changes its flops. 
  • If the trailer has lots of “omgz embarrassing” moments in it, and general juvenile slapstick, double entendres, sex jokes, losing all your clothes inexplicably… go watch a Carry On film. 
  • If it’s a TV star’s first break into Hollywood it’s probably a shit script for their level of acting.
  • If the whole plot of the film is easily worked out through watching the trailer – job done. Inadvertently.

There. Sorted. Onto Going The Distance.

Throughout the droves and droves of rom-com dross that come out, the plot for this film actually piqued my interest straight away and surprised me because I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the subject of a long distance relationship being tackled head on before. It’s actually a plausible and emotional concept for a film, which immediately makes it all the more appealing to watch. Empathy for a start. I really liked the cute graphics showing the planes travelling from the east coast to the west – straight away it moves ahead of the pack, and all it had to do was add a relatively standard creative touch that is all over films such as 500 Days of Summer and Juno.

And then the leads were fantastic – such a great chemistry and rapport between them, and I have since found out they are a real life couple, so a bit of a coup for the director there! I’m not a huge Drew Barrymore fan – I find her a bit too goofy at times – but she was just perfect here, playing the ditz but being smart with it as well, and really likable. And Justin Long – what a presence he’s turned out to be! Very attractive (he reminds me of a more conventional Zack Braff). I’ve always had a soft spot for him in films like He’s Just Not That Into You and Drag Me To Hull, but this is the first film I’ve seen where he takes a leading role, and to be honest it’s hard not to root for any relationship he forms with a girl because he’s just so god damn lovely and you want them to be together! He’s like the male equivalent of Reese Witherspoon.

Another thing which set this film apart – the language. It was so graphic and naughty at times, it actually made me beam with pride because it felt mature and grown-up and not dumbed down for the PG crowd. 12 year old girls who get all the ha-ha farting jokes aren’t going to get the sexual hang-ups and bitching that is freely expressed here and I loved that. It makes you feel more included and valued as a viewer. Fancy that - a writer who has actually been in a real life relationship and isn’t just creating a fantasy for the screen!

This does have elements of fantasy; incredulous moments that just would not happen to you and your mates, and an ending which is a bit too idealistic – but not before all the grafting has been done, and a messy break up and then a reconciliation which is actually a compromise rather than a fairytale. I found myself getting really involved as well working out solutions for them - where they could live to see the most of each other, and how they would commute to work…I was pining for a sequel by the end because I wanted to know when they would actually live together in the same city permanently!

The ‘sidekicks’ were also really well used – it was that style of humour and filmmaking, where you feel as though you’re actually sat, invisible, with the characters and you’re eavesdropping in on their conversation: it was just banter about nothing, about ridiculous things that you do end up discussing at some point in your life (like why there are no baby pigeons in the city) and as the conversation drags on and on, it has no point to it, no plot device or contrivance, it just meanders along until the camera decides to cut out. Lovely. Oh - and Kelli Garner as well! She’s so pretty, and was very pleased to see her turn up as a recurring character on My Generation t’other day.

Best, best romantic comedy I’ve seen for ages. See – when you know what you’re looking for you’re not going to be disappointed. And Going The Distance surpassed every one of my expectations by about a million. Interestingly this was director Nanette Burstein’s first feature film (her other credit being documentary American Teen which I’ve been meaning to see for ages!) so I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on her next project, as I will with debut writer Geoff La Tulippe. What an amazing first time double combo!

Oh, and the reason for the five cheeses? (Five cheeses being somewhat of a rarity around these parts…) Well it was for this line: “You want to go back to mine and cry? If you want to get really fucked up, we can listen to the Garden State soundtrack.”

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