Sunday, 15 March 2009

Movie Review - An Affair To Remember

Well…

I thought it was about time I reviewed an older film for a change, and I saw this quite recently. It was a film I’d heard a lot about, and apparently the ending to Sleepless in Seattle borrowed heavily from it (my mother-in-law loves that film, I only think it’s slightly better than OK). I’ve always tended to enjoy films with Cary Grant in (apart from North by Northwest), especially his ability to deliver complex wordplay at breakneck speeds without faltering. And that’s another reason I often like older films – because of the lack of special effects, they tend to have infinitely better dialogue, something sadly missing in the majority of today’s films.

Okay, get on with it…

Now that I’ve bored you rigid with my diatribe, I’ll begin the review proper. An Affair to Remember is about a man and woman who meet while on a cruise, both engaged to be married, Grant soon after the cruise ends, the woman (Deborah Kerr) has been engaged for years, to be married sometime never / whenever. Grant is a notorious playboy about to be tamed / marrying for money (she’s a millionaire), depending on your point of view. The film leads you to the conclusion that it’s the latter while people in the film seem to think it’s the first.

What passes for the plot…

They meet, fall in love, and then lots of other improbable events lead to the top of the Empire States building, where the lovers are supposed to meet on a particular date. And that’s the first major problem with the movie – it’s just all rather implausible. Hardly anything that happens is more than remotely believable, and it’s not done in enough of a comedy / escapist style for this to be forgivable.

And it gets worse…

The second problem (after having said that dialogue is usually far better in older films) is… the dialogue. It ranges from the bland to the banal, and there is none of the express train delivery of long witticisms by Grant that work so well in many of his other films. In fact, Grant himself comes across as puzzled at his own lines half the time – they’re just so terribly lame. His performance throughout is stilted – whether it was just a bad day at the office for him or because the character and situations he was playing were so implausible, I don’t know. Kerr fares little better, though she does at least get to show a little sarcasm. The peripheral characters in the film are transparent and one-dimensional, even characters who have a relatively large part in the film, such as Grant’s mother. The fact that Kerr’s original love interest is so completely placid in the face of losing someone who is apparently the love of his life, even upon meeting his replacement, is scarcely believable.

Yawn…

The special effects, such as there were, are not impressive even bearing in mind when the film was made. The scenes on the ship were particularly laughable. There is some humour that manages to push itself through, but the laughs are pitifully few and far between. The plot was just too unlikely to produce any real tension or emotional response in the viewer.

Partially saving grace…

I was hugely disappointed with most of this film; however, it does improve considerably in the final twenty minutes, despite still being hampered by some of the same problems of the rest of the film. This does at least save this film from the ignominy of a 1-star rating. There are moments that are memorable, but the film as a whole is not – or at least, not for the right reasons.

Sadly, this affair is one to forget, not remember.

Better romantic comedies, IMHO (and not just because they're more modern):

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

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If you like Romantic Comedies, check out my - Top Ten Romantic Comedies List

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