Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Trainwreck review

I usually dislike chick-flicks, with a few exceptions. But I heard this was good so decided to check it out. You can read my review after the jump...

Trainwreck begins somewhat atypical for a chick-flick: a sepia-toned nostalgia piece in what looks suspiciously like (please) 35mm. And on top of that, it's perfectly framed. And well acted. And funny. And makes sense. Nice.

An honest portrayal of love
Over the next two hours, similar stylistic and comedic notes are hit with expert perfection. For one, the title sequence is spectacular (along with a slow-mo dance scene). Yet all the usual cliches are met: boy meets girl, they fall in love, there are complications, they sort them out. So is this film any different to your bog-standard chick flick?

Well yes, and no. It's your typical storyline (with the usual gender roles reversed) which isn't exactly dynamite. Our main protagonist is Amy, and she is the Trainwreck of the title. It's a pretty accurate title, believe me. So we follow Amy and her haphazard life: she works at a dubious mens magazine, has dubious familial relations, and leads an incredibly dubious sex life. That is, at least, until she meets Aaron (a sports doctor). What follows is two hours of the trials and tribulations of romantic life. We see surgery, death, Lebron James, Matthew Broderick (playing himself), basketball, weird husbands, weirder sex, and (naturally), ice-cream.

The Dogwalker - typical sundance fare
But here's the big question: is it funny? Well, I'm glad to report that, for the most part, if you don't mind the word 'fuck', then yes, it's very funny. There are your usual one-liners, excellent extended metaphors (just watch the first scene), and extended jokes that elevate the film above the canon fodder. For instance, take the long tampon joke told in a park by Amy. It's honest, funny, and approaches a subject not tackled in many mainstream films today. And, on top of that, it contains multiple movie references! I feel that 2015 has been a breakthrough year for feminist movies with Mad Max, Mission Impossible 5, and now Trainwreck. The topics discussed throughout are just so honest and unexplored in blockbusters. Or take the pseudo-intellectual Daniel Radcliffe flick, the Dogwalker, that is contained within the film (it's not real). It's funny, more than a little dirty, but also a satire on what we perceive as entertainment. What we see as a good film. Is a film good because it is in black and white? Is it because it has deeper meanings? Do good films need to be pretentious? Judd Apatow is telling us no. Perhaps here is a dig at the critics response to his latest films, but hey, he's allowed to do that.

Awkward sex...
And is it meaningful? Yes, to an extent. There's a degree of sugarcoating that's present in practically all big movies. But it's more honest than, say, Bridesmaids (which was unrealistic to the point of lunacy). There's far more sex depicted, and more relationship boundaries explored than rom-coms such as Bridget Jones. It acknowledges and celebrates complications rather than ignoring them. As I said above, there's substance to the jokes. There's a real statement about being a woman in a patriarchal society contained within. I mean, think of all the chick-flicks you've seen. Whats the story? The girl loves the guy, but he has commitment issues and won't reciprocate. Trainwreck is the only film I've seen to reverse those gender stereotypes. Not just gender stereotypes, but stereotypes of people. Buff, strong John Cena plays a camp and (possibly) gay fitness coach. You see what I mean? And there's a bucketful of film references (that scores points in my book!). The acting is pretty good. Schumer should be praised for her performance, but there is no elevation from cast members to a spectacular level per-say.

So there you have it, Trainwreck is a pretty good film. It has good characters, some good acting, good laughs, and a meaningful story. But it hits the metaphorical glass ceiling in being, at the end of the day, a chick-flick with a typically cheap rom-com storyline.
Trainwreck gets 4 stars!

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