“Someone Like You”: Critical Analysis
Someone Like You is an example of a good romantic comedy which exceeds the frames of an ordinary Romantic Comedy. It has smart and entertaining dialogues, an engaging plot and marvelous acting. It shows a new variant of a female and male communication.
The film was directed by Tony Goldwyn and first released on March 30, 2001. It is based on Laura Zigman’s novel called Animal Husbandry, where the main character being in a search of the right man for her is trying to lean on the research theory conducted with cows. The film has limited number of characters at the beginning. I believe this is done intentionally, in order to make the audience focus on some important issues. Moreover, the film has a typical for the genre plot evolvement. A woman meets a man and so a couple emerges. The two strengthen their relationships by overcoming all the obstacles lying on their path.
However, there are some differences in the film compared to other films of the old Golden Age. In the films that I have seen in the class, women are given more power to control their men, and look more confident and determined. They do whatever they want with their partners as in The Lady Eve. They are stubborn and know how to manipulate men and, finally, get whatever they want. In Someone Like You, on the other hand, Jane Goodale looks awful shy and nervous. She never takes the chance to say “I love you” first. Jane’s character needs more stimulation and strength to go through life’s hidden complications than, for example, Katherine Hepburn’s character in Bringing Up Baby or The Awful Truth. Since Jane is naive and innocent, she should be manipulated and even forsaken by her partner. For these reasons, this is one of the differences that I have noticed by comparing Someone Like You with other films from the Golden Age.
Furthermore, this movie has an unpredictable turning point. The good guy becomes the bad guy, and the bad guy becomes the good one. In old romantic comedies, the main couple sticks together throughout the whole movie, and, despite all misunderstandings between them, they end up marrying each other, or, at least, we see them being together again. What happens here is a completely different story. Ray trashes Jane by using her and leaves without a place to live and his character being equally trashed. From the mid of the movie, we clearly see Ray’s character pushed to the second place having no importance than it used to have. I assume that such story development happens rarely in Romantic Comedy genre.
Another noticeable change that caught my attention is that parents used to play a significant role in their children’s life, in the Golden Age movies. Now, the situation is the opposite since our contemporary society has different views on parent and kid relationships. Children are more independent and start to build their lives in a very young age. So far, I enjoyed all the Romantic Comedies in which parents are involved in shaping and building their siblings’ future. In my opinion, none of these changes had damaging effects in Someone Like You.
In addition, the other change in this genre that I have noticed is not just talking about sex as this was the case in the Golden Age films, but also doing it. In Someone Like You, in the scene where Ray goes to Jane’s house for the first time, we see how sex replaces the sharp witty language which is completely opposite to what we see in the Golden Age films. However, in general terms, adding a lot of sex scenes to this genre of films will turn it into junk since films have language, and each movie is produced to deliver some message to the audience.
Now, I would like to talk about the elements of this genre that remained unchanged and were taken into the modern Romantic Comedies. A pivotal character, which was seen in the Golden Age films, still remains in modern Romantic Comedies and plays a key role in finding some answers for the main character Jane in Someone Like You. This time, instead of a dog or a leopard we see a cow. The role given to the cow is much different from the role given to the dog Gorge in Bringing Up Baby, for example. Ashley Judd’s character tries to explore the relationship between the bull and the cow. Finally, she comes up with the Cow Theory where she compares herself with the cow and Ray with the bull. Consequently, she presumes that Ray acts like a bull, who is not satisfied with the old cow he has, and who is always in a search of a new one. Another obvious genre convention that still remains unchanged is the absence of children, in Someone Like You, which also makes one more positive point for the argument that this film certainly fulfills the genre requirements of a Romantic/Screwball comedy.
There are no journey involvements in this movie. However, I would consider Jane’s studies about the cows as a physical journey to the unseen world, where she gathers facts to understand why Ray abandoned her and to share her studies with others. Despite the ending, which is not a marriage, nor a promise of marriage, I think the ending fully satisfies the majority of the audience.
To sum up, the film was entertaining and funny as most Romantic Comedies are. However, it has lots of genre conventions compared to those in the Golden Age films. In general, Someone Like You was not affected significantly by these genre changes. In comparison to those movies that I have seen in the class, Someone Like You does not have the same sharp language or actions making the audience jump out of their sits. The film is worth watching. I would recommend the comedy gladly to my friends.