Hey, gidday mates! I went and saw the new Rebel Wilson/Dakota Johnson movie How To Be Single last night, and as a relationship-advice-giver, I was extremely pleased to find that its message was one of the most sage to ever have come out of Hollywood, especially in a film featuring young women, aimed at young women.
It follows a college grad named Alice (Dakota Johnson) who moves to Manhattan to work at a law firm, but before she leaves, she tells her longterm boyfriend (who she started dating the first day of university) that she wants to go on a break, you know, to find herself. He’s not keen, but she’s adamant, so that’s that.
At her new Manhattan law firm job, she meets Robin (Rebel Wilson) — a loud-mouthed Australian larrikin — whose soul objective in life is to party, have sex with strangers, and do it all again the next night (or later that same night if the opportunity presents itself).
Without giving too much of the plot away, Robin takes Alice under her wing and encourages Alice to adopt her ways, which she does, but quickly realizes that she’s not a one-night-stand kinda gal. So, craving the familiar, she calls her longterm boyfriend to tell him she’s ready to settle down once and for all. He says thanks but no thanks, and true independence begins.
Now usually these types of movies follow one of two formats: A nice guy comes along and waits in the wings for half the film until the female lead finally sees what was right in front of her ALL ALONG; or a bad boy comes along who WILL NOT BE CHANGED, until he realizes that he truly does love our leading lady, and changes.
I hate both of those cliches. The first is cute but banal, the second is deeply unhelpful because I believe that it gives the target audience hope that somebody who treats you badly might then turn around and say, “I was horrible but now I’m going to treat you with the kindness and respect you deserve!” Somebody give me one example of this happening in the real world. Please.
The other issue I have with romance comedies is that usually the whole movie focuses on the journey to the wedding, after which everybody lives happily ever after, but as anybody who’s ever been in a real-life relationship will attest, the real work begins when you’re actually in the relationship, not trying to get into it.
Okay, so, there’s some cliche number one plus happily ever after stuff that goes on with Alice’s older sister, played by Leslie Mann, but Alice doesn’t get let off the hook that easily.
The moral of the movie is twofold:
1. If you spend your entire life as a serial monogamist, you’ll get to know lots of other people, but you’ll never really get to know yourself.
2. If you don’t allow yourself time to be single and alone after a breakup, you’ll never learn to be happy by yourself, and if you can’t be happy by yourself, you’ll never be happy with anybody else.
Go see it. Seriously. Go see it.
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