Given the well-known reputation which precedes romantic comedies as a film genre (materialistic, stereotypical, completely devoid of any real depth or humanity), I was quite surprised to learn that Natalie Portman was starring opposite Ashton Kutcher in an upcoming rom-com, No Strings Attached–let alone a rom-com that, upon first viewing of the trailer, literally made me cringe before it was even over. Maybe I’m harsh, but…
Issue #1: How those two were ever cast together in the same movie, I’ll never know.
Issue #2: Based on the topic of the film, I was almost certain that this was going to be a glorification of overgeneralized gender differences (’cause, you know, men see the world through a tint of blue while their female counterparts view the same world as purely pink….or is that fuschia?).
Imagine my pleasant surprise when I read that not only does she carry strong, valid opinions on the lackluster quality of female roles in romantic comedies but, also, that her character in the film should not give us reason to worry. A recent interview captures her thoughts on both of these, beginning with her reasoning for having never done a romantic comedy before:
“I’ve always wanted to do one….but the girls are always in fashion, and it’s always about their clothes. They always want to get married at the end. There’s some kind of makeover scene. That stuff offends me.”
“[Screenwriter] Liz Meriwether writes women so specifically and smartly,” says the actress. “My character is a woman who’s working, who’s trying to create her own construct for relationships, who’s funny herself — and isn’t just the girlfriend of a funny guy.”
She’s also in the process of developing more female friendly comedies through her production company, Handsomecharlie Films, which has four films to its credit and, currently, four films in development. One film is described as a stoner road trip film, while another has been described as a “female Superbad.”
Says Annette Savich, Portman’s producing partner:
“We want to do movies that are female driven, from a fresher perspective. So if it’s a comedy, it’s not just about women out to find husbands. I think that’s really lacking today.”
I’ve never been the biggest Portman fan, to be honest–at least as an actress. I admired her for choosing an education (though she was certainly in a position of privilege while many others are not) and I did like her in Garden State and Closer, but everything else just was not memorable to me.
After reading this interview, I am convinced that Natalie Portman may just completely rock as a person. While I’m sure her production company may struggle in the process (and do many female-centric products in the process of being starved of the resources necessary to succeed), it’s definitely a good start. I can only hope that others in similar positions of wealth and fortune can put their power to good use–even if, in the process, aspects of doing such a thing may indeed come across as self-serving (e.g., creating better roles for themselves).
If any of these upcoming films become mainstream and do, indeed, reflect more realistic, positive images of women, then everybody wins. Let’s hope for that female Superbad!