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Sep 25, 2010 3:00:03 PM - thesundayleader.lk

Chick Flick Vs Masterpiece

Chick flick is slang for a film designed to appeal to a female  target audience. Although many types of films may be directed toward the female gender, ‘chick flick’ is typically used only in reference to films that are heavy with emotion or contain themes that are relationship-based (though not necessarily romantic).

By Sumaya Samarasinghe

Those who pretend that they don’t enjoy a good chick flick from time to time are either lying or should be pitied, since according to the definition of this genre, one has to possess ‘emotional maturity’ and ‘understand relationships’ in order to truly get the meaning of movies meant for a female audience! So it is up to you to decide if the males you know who sigh, cry and beg for action when you switch on Terms Of Endearment, Pretty Woman, The Devil Wears Prada or Steel Magnolias, are worthy of your attention…
But, to be fair, the chick flicks mentioned above are some of the best ones which were made in the past — 20 years ago  — and the recent crop has been bordering on disastrous.

Letters To Juliet had all the ingredients to set the bar nice and high again, but instead, a few wrong choices, like once again, an incredibly predictable script and two male leads (Gael Garcia Bernal and Christopher Egan) who over acted so much that it was laughable; made the film just ok and watchable because of the gorgeous sets and its strong female characters.  The story begins with Sophie, the blonde and stunning Amanda Seyfried who is a fact checker at The New Yorker. She is engaged to Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal), a successful, self centered restaurant owner. Both decide to go to Verona on a pre-honeymoon. While Victor is busy meeting his suppliers, Sophie goes sightseeing and comes across what is supposed to be Juliet Capulet’s house. Mesmerized, she watches hundreds of women write pleading letters to Juliet about their lost loves. After the notes are stuck on the wall and everyone leaves the premises, a woman appears and collects the letters.

Sophie follows her and finds out that three other women who are nicknamed “Juliet’s Secretaries” respond to every individual letter by hand. While Victor is gallivanting around the country, Sophie begins to help the “secretaries” and one day, she finds a 50 year old letter written by a teenage Claire who went back to Britain without bidding farewell to her lover Lorenzo. Sophie responds to the letter and a few days later, here comes Claire played by the regal Vanessa Redgrave and her very annoying grandson who is supposedly a human rights lawyer with the sensitivity of a peanut (of course deep inside, he is caring, good and romantic. I am sure you had already guessed that right?).

Sophie, Claire and a falsely annoyed Charlie embark on a luxury road trip searching for the long lost Lorenzo. Need I say more? Apart from the fantastic settings of Verona, the gorgeous streets, houses, gelatos, food, vineyards and classy clothes, Letters To Juliet is filled with clichés and extremely flat dialogue, perhaps the worst I have heard in a while. However, I would recommend to watch the film on a gloomy day, perhaps on a boring flight or in the evening when you really want to give your brain a rest. In a desperate urge to come back to reality (life is tough, unfair, you live alone, no one loves you etc. etc.), I watched the outstanding feature called Mother And Child, which won this month, the top prize at the 36th Deauville American Film Festival. The story is about the effect of adoption on the lives of three women.

Karen (Annette Bening) is a neurotic, unpleasant physiotherapist who lives with her aging mother. Having become pregnant at the age of 14, she gave up her baby and never forgave herself for that. The little girl had grown up to become a beautiful, cold and successful lawyer (Naomi Watts), who lives her life completely on her terms, regardless of the emotions of any other party involved in her life. Even during her brief relationships, she is the one who is in command and dictates the rules to men who seem hypnotized and willing to obey without a protest! Meanwhile Lucy (Kerry Washington), who has been married for four years is looking to adopt a child with her husband.

The film which is written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia is one of the best features I have watched in the past few weeks. The three main actresses deserve a common Oscar, Watts who is terrifying and incredible in her quiet, assertive and commanding role, steals the limelight. She does dominate the entire film and when she is not onscreen, we find ourselves wondering what her deeply disturbed character may be doing.

She is the result of an adoption gone wrong, a child who felt she never belonged and hence never tried to build any lasting relationships either professionally or personally. The entire film relies on the performance of the actresses and though the men in this film are just supporting characters, they are outstanding.  Samuel L. Jackson and Jimmy Smiths bring in humanity, stability and kindness into the lives the heroines. The only issue though is that the film barely focuses on the positive aspects of adoption and if you had thoughts of adopting, I would advice you to not watch the film.Thanks to an excellent script and like most good directors, Garcia was able to pull out the maximum from all his actresses. To write more would be to reveal too much. Mother And Child is not to be missed.