Bachelorette (2012)

Like Bridesmaids before it, and the more recent film Sisters, Bachelorette is a comedy about adults misbehaving which is written by and primarily stars women, and which if written by and starring men would probably be atrocious. (These scenarios have almost certainly already been made in that guise. They probably star Vince Vaughn.)

Sadly, Bachelorette doesn’t quite attain the hilarity of those other films, but it’s also fascinating in a quite different way, because all the central characters are uniformly awful, unlikeable people. Sure, there’s a move towards softening some of these characteristics by the end (which, for a film about marriage and strained friendships, is of course a wedding), but that’s really just the very final scene (it’s a bit soppy). For the most part the film doesn’t spare these characters, and yet despite that, the film mostly kinda works.

As for the storyline, it’s Rebel Wilson’s Becky who’s getting married (Wilson sounding weird doing an American accent), but the film is most interested in her closest friends, Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Katie (Isla Fisher) and Gena (Lizzy Caplan), none of whom are particularly happy, and who manifest this in various ways. When they accidentally ruin the bride’s dress (for the benefit of a particularly nasty joke at Becky’s expense), they end up having to call in favours and run around figuring out how to fix it, and it’s this almost-slapstick set-up which is probably the weakest part of the film. However, there are plenty of observant moments for each of these characters, and the acting is of a high calibre, such that it’s never quite as bad as it feels it should be. It’s even a little bit refreshing.

Bachelorette (2012)CREDITS
Director/Writer Leslye Headland (based on her play); Cinematographer Doug Emmett; Starring Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, Isla Fisher, Rebel Wilson; Length 87 minutes.
Seen at home (Netflix streaming), London, Tuesday 5 January 2016.

Sleeping with Other People (2015)

Having recently watched director Leslye Headland’s first film Bachelorette, I get the sense that she likes characters who are deeply unhappy — not unreasonable, as happy people can make for dull comedies — but at least in this case they are largely likeable. Jake (Jason Sudeikis) and Lainey (Alison Brie) first hook up in college and then, over a decade later, run into each other in New York, whereupon they resume a flirtatious relationship, all of which takes place against various meltdowns in their respective personal lives. It’s the usual stuff of romantic comedies — misunderstandings, infidelities, messy breakups, awkward one-night-stands — except here our leads are largely to blame. It’s the easy charm of the actors that prevents their self-involved sex-addicted characters becoming too tiresome, and they have some nice laid-back chemistry together. The last 10 minutes feel particularly forced, including a stupid cafe fight worthy of Bridget Jones’s Diary, but it allows generic convention to run its course. The film also makes Jake’s notable character trope his tendency towards mansplaining, which is really pushed into the territory of uncomfortable laughs. I guess that kind of blend of discomfort and comedy is a hallmark here, and viewers could go either way on it. I’ll be honest: my benign tolerance for it might be something to do with seeing the new Tarantino film directly after, which scorched the earth to such an extent that I can’t help but feel fondly about this little unprepossessing New York-set romcom-with-a-twist.

Sleeping with Other People film posterCREDITS
Director/Writer Leslye Headland; Cinematographer Ben Kutchins; Starring Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Adam Scott, Jason Mantzoukas, Natasha Lyonne; Length 101 minutes.
Seen at Prince Charles Cinema, London, Saturday 9 January 2016.