Whilst this film found no prizes at Cannes or New York, it somehow wins the prize of being good enough to sit on my DVD shelf. Still, there must be a reason for it being there, right? (…) You have to look pretty hard, I’ll admit, especially since this appears to be a typical American romantic-comedy featuring the likes of Ashton Kutcher (The Butterfly Effect and, um… no, just The Butterfly Effect) in too many scenes. Regardless, I’m prepared to defend it… somewhat.
It features Cooper, Dempsey, Biel, Lautner, Latifah, Foxx, Alba and Garner (amongst others) which reads like a who’s who of annoyingly-handsome/beautiful, artificial-looking actors that tend to make films falling somewhere between horrendously awful and achingly dull on the spectrum (bearing in mind that every rule has its exception). Either that or likely new names for Santa’s reindeers when Michael Bay inevitably gets together with some hack producer and remakes (read: butchers) another classic tale (‘Santa, with guns!’)
But whilst Transformers reads like an absurd propaganda video for the US army, I feel that Valentine’s Day manages to do something that very few others do… and that’s to undersell a soldier for once. We feel for Julia Roberts’ character because she feels real, and perhaps by fluke, this film shows that less is sometimes more. The restrictions in form (i.e. too many characters) mean that we don’t have time to hate her, and each second spent with her is actually significant. All the rubbish has been cut away. This leads up to an emotional reunion scene which has now fooled me on two occasions, and you’re simply David from Artificial Intelligence if you aren’t moved.
People constantly expect this film to be something it’s not. It’s either chastised for being too formulaic or too soppy or not as good as Love Actually. These people are right – it’s not Love Actually, but then not even Love Actually is as good as we pretend it is. I wouldn’t dare argue with the warm fuzzy Christmas feeling that it evokes, but that’s because we let it. It’s not as good as we pretend.With Bradley Cooper and his story, too often we hear about films like this that seemingly do very little that is risky or dangerous, whereas this one does try. Eric Dane plays the popular sports star and announcing his homosexuality was a bold move. Admittedly it’s not the bravest thing ever attempted, but it was never going to be, and this is the real issue: false expectation.
So appreciate the effort, enjoy the sentiment, sit back and recognise that Valentine’s Day isn’t trying to do much. But it does do more than you think.
Michael PrescottPin It