Friday, 19 October 2007

DVD: The Break-Up

Lowdown: A detailed look at a couple breaking up.
One of the bad things about American cinema is that it always distorts reality by trying to present the nice stuff that often happens in life as the representative of life entire, ignoring life’s nasty and sad aspects. This can have effects that reach way beyond the world of film: people who are thus trained to think of life as an eternally fresh bouquet of roses will suffer big time when something else happens, say, when a close friend or relative dies; they will simply have no idea how to react in such a situation.
The Break-Up breaks that convention to one extent or another. It is a film devoted entirely to the tackling of a bad event – the break up of a formerly loving couple. Its handling is rather on the polite side of reality but given my experiences and observations on others it is still very much on the firm side of reality. And given that it stars Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston it is also a funny film, albeit not one that would make you explode with laughter; it basically relies on Vaughn’s big mouth to provide funny interpretations to ongoing events (while Aniston is mainly busy trying to look her annoying cute with her rather annoying gestures borrowed from Friends).
The film’s opening scene shows us how the couple has met. Then we move ahead, probably by several years, and the couple is living together in what seems to be the very warm and sunny city of Chicago, sharing an apartment they own together. Crisis starts immediately as a dinner party goes wrong, and by the end of the night break up occurs. The film then moves on to show how the heroes’ lives change: the effects on work, the effects of still living together in the same apartment, relatives and friends’ reactions, etc. It all does feel very authentic and real, even if there is no outright nastiness between the former couple as often happens in reality. For example, I really liked the way certain family members seem to mainly care about the financial implications of the break up with virtually no regard to the emotional turmoil the broken up family member is going through.
One can easily argue that The Break-Up is almost like a TV reality show with some comedy elements thrown in. I certainly would. The main differences between the film and such a TV production would be to do with the film’s superior production values; the common elements between the two would be in the voyeurism elements and in the fact that there is not much to the film other than documenting a break up.
Funniest scene: Aniston brings a guy over to make Vaughn jealous but the two guys hit it off playing video games, leaving Aniston in the background.
Picture quality: Quite good but with occasional artifacts.
Sound quality: I’m sure I had the surrounds switched on.
Overall: This is a funny 3 star film that reminds me a lot of my parents and other couples who have had shaky relationships. Given that I think it is a step in the right direction for the world of film in general I will bestow The Break-Up with 3.5 stars out of 5.

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