Retro Film Review: Chasing Amy

2 Sep

“Chasing Amy,” Kevin Smith’s third “Askewniverse,” installment, pushes past the category of “Romantic Comedy,” by removing all the bows, ribbons and butterflies and cutting straight and deep into the euphoric pit that is true love.

Partly inspired by his relationship with then girlfriend, Joey Lauren Adams, Smith manages to smash through the wall that is cinematic division of gender ideals to offer an honest perspective relatable to all viewers.

The film stars Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams and Jason Lee, with a very brief appearance of Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith reprising their respective roles as Jay and Silent Bob.

Ben Affleck and Jason Lee star as roommates, Holden and Banky.  Early in the film it is made clear that Holden is the quiet, calm and more intelligent of the two, comparing his comic character creations, “Bluntman and Chronic,” to “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern meet Vladamir and Estragon.” to a somewhat confused fan.  Banky in contrast is shown as defensive, wise-cracking, impulsive and homophobic.

Joey Lauren Adams is the magnetic and charming Alyssa Jones, with whom Holden is enamoured at first sight.

Affleck’s acting is not always what you might call, “top-notch.”  He is no Olivier.  However, in this film, Affleck really delivers.  His character and all the others of this terrific cast, evoke empathy from the viewer with smoothness and ease while still deliver a chuckle in between every sigh.

The text is organic and amazingly well written, sticking with a true and natural voice, while still stylistically inimitable.

Chasing Amy addresses virtually every socio-sexual issue at the political forefront as well as some more quiet and taboo, in a way subtle enough that leaves about an hour before the viewer contemplates any individual statement.

The message behind most successful romantic comedies is often, if not generally, “love is not easy and requires some sacrifices to be made.”  It is a message that does not necessarily mean all that much when the two main characters are completely functional, have stable, white collar employment and Manhattan condos and suffer relationship problems that do not relate to the average person watching the movie.

Smith’s initial attempt at filmmaking and the first movie in the series, “Clerks,” cost him $28,000 to make, all of which was acquired using credit cards.

Smith’s movies are not flashy, over-the-top or action packed, often the photography and editing is not flawless.  Smith’s movies are, however most accessible of any director’s.

“Chasing Amy,” is a thinking comedy, except for the Jay and Silent Bob appearance, there are few laugh out loud moments.  The movie has layers of depth and complexity and should very well have created a standard for all romance movies that followed.

To simplify things, if you loved, “Something Borrowed,” you will probably not love, “Chasing Amy.”  This is not a movie in which the Princess is rescued by Prince Charming.  This is a movie in which Prince Charming and the Princess acknowledge their faults that cannot be reconciled and they do not find or look for reconciliation.

By destroying archetypal characters, by looking past ideals, Smith and the amazing cast of this film create a journey that offers no advice or answers, but an unbeatable and passionate lens of perspective, in a movie that will embed itself in history as one of the best romance movies of all time.


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