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Thursday 8 December 2011

The Moment You Connect

November 19th-December 19th 2011 is Rom-Com Season at Kid In The Front Row.

To love a romantic comedy, there has to be a moment when you really connect. And do you connect because it's a great film? Because they used the right lighting? Maybe. But probably not. 

I like the film 'Going The Distance'. Why? I guess because it's about people of my kind of age and mentality, and it has good dialogue and a good level of authenticity. But then, that's true of many films. 

But 'Going The Distance' really hit me, at a very specific moment, twenty-two minutes into the film.

First of all, there was some movie carry-over ("Movie Carry-Over": When you project a quality into a film based on a previous film you've seen [and yes, this is a made up KidInTheFrontRowIsm]). The carry-over is from 'Adventureland'. As any of you who are regulars will know, 'Adventureland' is one of my all time favorite films, and I watch it on a near weekly basis. I just can't get enough of it. 

The carry-over is caused by the song "Just Like Heaven" by The Cure. It's used in 'Adventureland' and it's used in "Going The Distance". I love how it's joyously used in 'Adventureland', and that energy is similar in this film. Also, the second the song hits in, there's a wonderful establishing shot of Manhattan, my favorite place in the world. 

So we have NEW YORK and ADVENTURELAND and JUST LIKE HEAVEN; and I just connect, because they're three things that are extremely personal and wonderful to me. 

The scene that follows is an unusual one, because it's so raw. Most of the film is shot in quite a standard way; but the scene with 'Just Like Heaven' in the background is extremely raw -- the camerawork is handheld and jerky; in fact, one of the shots is so bad it's unbelievable they kept it in. But more unbelievable than that, is how perfectly it worked. 

Drew Barrymore and Justin Long rocked the scene. They were so real; really connecting and just having fun. Drew's big booming laugh is the most honest thing you've ever seen. 

The lighting is really flat, there's something really unprofessional about it; almost as if the director gave a camera to a production assistant and said "go shoot something". I'd love to know how they shot this scene. Because, actually, it's one of my favorite cinema moments. Funny how it goes, y'know? You can have the perfect things technically and have it mean nothing, or shoot something where the camera nearly falls over, and you hit movie magic. 

After that there's a pretty standard montage of time passing and the characters falling in love -- but armed with the song and the wonderful scene that came before; it really resonates. 

That's how romantic comedies get you. They need that moment. The one where you think "YES. I get that. I feel that. That's my life." Without it, all you have is a Jennifer Lopez movie. But when it's done right, when a rom-com is honest; it connects in ways which nothing else in cinema can. This scene captures the very essence of what it is to have a New York moment; to connect with someone and be full of possibilities.


  1. I remember that scene, and I remember thinking the same thing...that it looked like I could have shot it. I follow the screenwriter of this movie on Twitter, I'll see if I can point him over here and maybe he can answer your question of how that came about.

    I loved that movie.

  2. Shit yeah! Really glad you had such a reaction to the movie. Though it it worries me; as one of only 6 people to see and enjoy the movie, your enthusiasm is probably indicative of a dangerous mental ailment. Sucks.

    Anyway, the scene in question happened much like you said. We originally had an entirely different (though thematically similar) montage sequence written, but in the midst of shooting, the director (Nanette Burstein) decided she wanted to mix it up a bit and apply techniques from her documentary roots. So she took a handheld and a very small crew out with Justin and Drew in various NYC locales and just kind of let them go. Since they were dating at the time (or had dated until then, can't really remember) they had an awesome rapport and their real personalities mirror the characters' so well that they just fell into conversations that fit perfectly within the film. I agree it's a little jarring for a moment, but it's also one of my favorite sequences in the whole movie because it sort of slam-dunked one of the main things I thought was most important with the story: keeping it real.

    Again, super stoked you enjoyed and that it meant something to you. These kind of responses to the movie make my giddy to the point that a little pee comes out.