Romantic Comedy review

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A documentary about the romantic comedy, and a very good one at that – here’s our review.

Elizabeth Sankey is the writer, director and narrator of this journey into the romantic comedy. It’s a genre that’s much maligned by some and easily dismissed by many. It’s also got a complicated history, with some conventions that are quite troubling when really reflected upon. Sankey openly admits these problematic aspects, and her visual essay showcases her all-encompassing love for them whilst refusing to be rose-tinted about them.

Whilst founded in earnest love and admiration of nearly a century’s worth of romantic comedies, she’s unafraid of analysing and musing on how harmful aspects of them can be. She, alongside multiple other voices, discuss the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of the romcom, which results in an enlightening and new perspective on the films many of us have come to know so well. How deeply have we ever reflected on how exclusive they are? How many of us have underappreciated how great an impact they have had on our romantic relationships and our presentation of self?

The range of films included is impressive, from the familiar and expected to those slightly more niche and lesser known. For those who are already lovers of the romcom, that means an expanded to-be-watched list. For those who are more apathetic, it’s likely that, at the very least, an admiration for them will be found. That’s in part due to the amount of films in Sankey’s arsenal, and the unquestionable high quality of those that are featured.

But it’s also down to how Sankey has pieced them together; by not using talking heads, she has avoided interrupting the movie clips. Instead, they’re sewn together a bit like a comforting patchwork quilt that has been handed down through generations, except she’s unafraid of pointing out the flaws within them and picking apart any concerning features. The end result is an intimate documentary that’s a true pleasure to watch, with an immense level of rewatchability.

Insightful, thoughtful, considerate and as celebratory as it is critical, it manages to achieve an incredible amount with its economic running time of only 79 minutes, providing much for discussion and reflection.

Keep your eye on the film’s Twitter feed here for details of screenings.

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