Directed by Galt Niederhoffer
Walking in to watch The Romantics, I feared it might be a movie that relies on star power to get by. Valentine’s Day is what came to mind, and even though the level of celebrity of the stars of The Romantics isn’t exactly the same (Katie Holmes and Anna Paquin aren’t quite Julia Roberts and Jessica Alba), I was nonetheless worried. As it turns out, I didn’t have much to worry about on that front, though I still struggled a bit with this movie.
The Romantics is about a group of college friends who got this nickname because of, in the words of Katie Holmes’ character, their “incestuous” dating history. At the center of this group are Laura (Katie Holmes) and Lila (Anna Paquin), who were roommates and best friends. The group has reunited for Lila’s wedding, with Laura as her maid of honor. The problem is that Lila is marrying the one man Laura loves, Tom (Josh Duhamel). Everyone – the Romantics, Lila’s family, and even Lila herself – knows that Laura’s still in love with Tom.
I want to start by saying that the main thing I didn’t like about this movie is the sense that it is trying too hard. The characters are completely unlikable, references to their days as undergrads seem forced, and the ending is somewhat unsatisfying. Any of these things on their own would simply make this a different kind of movie, but all of them together gave me the impression that the film is trying to be different, which I don’t generally like. As I thought about the film moments, even hours, after, I was disappointed.
But for some reason, I got over it. When I looked back on the film the next day, I realized that it didn’t matter if it tries too hard, because it's still very refreshing.
The characters are unlikable, but they’re also familiar. I may not be best friends with the girl who's with a guy she knows doesn’t want to be with her, but I’ve certainly known that girl. I also know the couple that just can’t make it work, no matter how much they seem right for each other.
And while my friends and I don’t constantly start sentences with, “Remember that English paper junior year,” we do randomly bring up our all-nighters or the class that kicked all of our butts. It isn’t farfetched to think that if we all got together and were reminiscing, these memories would come to us much more quickly.
So maybe the film is trying too hard, but the fact is that I still really enjoyed it. The acting was great, and the main characters had very good chemistry as an ensemble. There were some uncomfortable moments, some sad moments, and some really funny moments. Then there was the music, which I completely loved and was carefully weaved through the film to help tell the story.
In the end, I was pleasantly surprised and looked back at The Romantics as a good story told by the right people in just the right way.