Cheating bastards the heart of new soul-sucking romcom

Something Borrowed movie (2011)

Movie review – Something Borrowed

– by Julia Brown

There’s something soul-sucking about the movie Something Borrowed. Directed by Luke Greenfield and based on the apparently-pretty-popular book of the same name by Emily Giffin, the film is your standard rom-com affair, but with a twist: basically all of the main characters are a bunch of cheating bastards (or bitches, as the case may be).

Full disclosure: I am a bit of a fan of the “cheating lovers” genre. One of my favourite films involving True Love within the context of infidelity is (don’t judge) The Bridges of Madison County. I also quite liked 2002’s Unfaithful, but that might have been mainly due to the sexiness of Olivier Martinez.

So, I had high-ish hopes for Something Borrowed in that sense. I should have known better than to get my hopes up, however. It’s hard to see how the filmmakers could have gotten it so wrong, given that there is so much pathos inherent in the kind of love triangle that is featured in the film, i.e., good girl-next-door Rachel (played by the irritatingly pretty Ginnifer Goodwin) sleeps with the fiancé of her BFF, domineering good-time girl Darcy (played fairly well by Kate Hudson), but they certainly did make a wrong turn somewhere.

Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin in Something Borrowed (2011).

Kate Hudson (of course) and Ginnifer Goodwin in Something Borrowed (2011).

The main issue seems to be that tackling an emotionally and ethically complex topic such as infidelity in such a light-hearted way is a sure recipe for cinematic weirdness. Greenfield and credited screenwriter Jennie Snyder (Gilmore Girls, 90210) take pains to ensure that the characters remind the audience repeatedly that Darcy and her oh-so-handsome fiancé Dex (played by the handsome Colin Egglesfield) are not married yet, but it’s still really tricky to make us feel an affinity towards a girl who is willing and able to boink her lifelong best friend’s guy behind her best friend’s back – even if Darcy did kind of steal Dex away from Rachel back in the day.

Most of characters are just are not likable, and thus the audience has no emotional foothold in the movie whatsoever. John Krasinski does a decent job of playing Rachel’s witty and wise sidekick Ethan, but even he comes across as a bit of a cardboard cut-out. Contrary to what you might think, though, the lack of likability has less to do with the fact that everyone is behaving in a rather shady manner, and more to do with the fact that you don’t get any real insight into why the characters are doing what they are doing.

Yes, OK, it turns out that Dex and Rachel have always secretly “loved” each other from afar, but why is this happening now? Has Dex fallen out of love with Darcy? Or was he never really in love with her? Does the uber-cute Rachel really lack for other options? Does Rachel truly love Darcy as a friend or does she actually kind of hate her, and that’s why she betrays her seemingly so easily? What the eff is going on inside all of their heads?? Because these motivational cues are missing, it makes the film feel empty, emotionally-speaking – which in the romantic comedy genre is a tad problematic, given that it’s supposed to be all about “feelings”.

It would all be somewhat tolerable if there were even some good laughs in the film, but those are fewer and further between than they should be. Krasinski is given some good lines, but overall he is under-utilized in a comedic sense. Ditto for Steve Howey, who is hilarious and edgy in Showtime’s Shameless, but is wasted as Something Borrowed’s inept ladies’ man Marcus.

Ultimately, Something Borrowed fails at being a “guilty pleasure”, and certainly falls far short of being an in-depth look into the complexities of love and friendship in the way it is being billed. Approach with caution, since it is highly probable that you will leave the theatre feeling like some rom-com harpy was trying to snatch away your will to live during the film’s over-long 103 minute run-time.

Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson in Something Borrowed (2011)

Laughing all the way to the bank, with your souls in their Prada clutch-purses.

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