Three of the recent movies I have seen – Something Borrowed, Bridesmaids, and Meek’s Cutoff – are seemingly unrelated. They vary in every possible way from their budgets to their settings to their overall quality. But linking them are strikingly disparate yet compelling female characters. These films are mostly written and directed by women. They are female-centric and are driven by complex female relationships that ultimately present unique representations of female identity. Above all they question the subtext of what movies try to tell us about women and the nature of movies that are marketed towards female audiences.
Where do I even begin?
Something Borrowed is the kind of movie you should see just when you want to just watch a movie and don’t really care too much about the details. (Leave the over-analyzing to people like me.) It is a movie that will no doubt cause plenty of eye-rolling and mostly makes you want to gauge your eyes out. Thankfully there are a few saving graces: Ginnifer Goodwin’s charm, some awful fashion choices when the characters hit the Hamptons, and John Krasinski’s snarkiness.
Adapted from Emily Griffin’s best selling novel, Something Borrowed is the story about childhood best friends, Rachel and Darcy, two characters who make you wonder how they could possibly survive in the real world. Rachel (played by Ginnifer Goodwin) is essentially a doormat that Darcy (Kate Hudson), an incredibly self-involved , ego-maniacal fool, walks all over. On the eve of Rachel’s 30th birthday party, she gets too drunk and sleep with Darcy’s fiancé, Dex (Colin Egglesfield). This is a very big deal and not just because of the whole cheating thing. We learn through wonderfully cheesy flashbacks that Dex and Rachel have loved each other since law school. Then Darcy swooped in and stole Dex away. In the present day, Dex wants to be with Rachel and vice-versa so they continue the affair in New York City and through stolen glances in the Hamptons.
Rachel, however, is a mess of confused feelings and wrecked by guilt. Her only confident is Ethan (John Krasinski) and he acts as the voice of reason. Why does Rachel even care about Darcy? She has a right to be happy for once. Rachel really has no one to blame but herself for Darcy’s relationship with Dex. She always resigns herself to Darcy’s ridiculous behavior. These women have an unrealistic friendship. It baffles me how they can be best friends when one so easily walks over the other. In the books, their friendship is given some depth and is balanced out by other very necessary characters (Krasinski’s Ethan is essentially all of them rolled into one). In the movie, any real sense that these women should remain loyal friends is lost. Why should we care what Rachel and Darcy do when the basis of a solid relationship is hardly there to begin with?
There are some genuinely entertaining moments. Any scene that pairs Goodwin and Krasinski breathes moments of life in the movie. Steve Howey gets a few laughs as Marcus, a ridiculous man-child who
creeps on tries to woo Rachel. (Howey, who you may remember from the sitcom Reba, has that type of character down.) There is even a competitive badminton match revolving around sharing each others secrets that becomes a display a rampant masculinity and the dangers of drinking martinis while faking athleticism.
Kate Hudson has gotten the most flack for Something Borrowed. (Though I think the ugly knit sweater Colin Egglesfield wears in one scene is a close second.) What is worth noting is that in Something Borrowed Hudson is playing a terrible, terrible character and Hudson plays the part exactly as Griffin wrote her. If the sequel Something Blue (told from Darcy’s p.o.v) is ever made, it will be interesting to see how, if at all, Darcy becomes a redeemable character, especially since she is played by an actress people so eagerly hate on. (Kate Hudson’s career makes you wish Cameron Crowe would write another part for her just so that she can remind us of the potential she had ten years ago.)
Kate Hudson is hardly the problem with Something Borrowed. No, the problem is the fact that I am expected to care about these women and their miserable friendship in the first place. Ginnifer Goodwin really deserves better.