Griffin Dunne directs Meg Ryan, Matthew Broderick and Kelly Preston in this dark romantic comedy where the jilted exes of a new couple stalk, spy and plot their break-up.
You can see why this didn’t set the world on fire in 1997. Meg Ryan, the box office tyro, is a little too self-consciously kooky here. It is a role that would fit a Lisa Kudrow or a Parker Posey like a glove. America’s Sweetheart though… looks like she’s slumming it. Which is a shame as once she’s got her Mr Toad motoring goggles off she is still an enticing prospect for the wet Broderick character and, more importantly, us to fall for. Dunne’s direction is aggressively cinematic without being intrusive – he pushes for strange angles and antiquated forms of movie grammar. Broderick and Ryan use a camera obscura to watch the happy home across from their squat and he exploits the visual possibilities from this device well. Tchéky Karyo as the pompous but rapacious new lover is a horrendously punchable creation… he manages to essay someone who could steal Kelly Preston from Broderick convincingly but we still relish seeing ruined by the spurned pair of broken hearts. It is a spiky film sold as a saccharine romp. For me it has aged well. Sure… many might see the protagonists as stalkers – dangerous obsessive who try to control and bully two humans who fell out of love with them. But the film is too cartoonish to attach real world hot takes on it. If you are going to condemn Maggie and Sam’s campaign of terror… at least accept everyone is flawed, capable of unhealthy fixation and lashing out. It is how we (eventually) move on from the heartache that is the coda… the creepy bad behaviour here is the larks for the audience and unintentional flirtation for these two loons. Better than you’ve been led to believe.
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