Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Tuesday September 20th 2011

Isn’t the whole Ryan Gosling thing weird? I mean, I know he’s basically been a sex symbol since The Notebook, but after the Hey Girl meme and Fuck Yeah! Ryan Gosling took off, he suddenly turned into some kind of omnipresent sexy in-joke. It’s as if journalists the world over are now incapable of writing about him without pointing out that he’s really good looking. I suppose the closest female equivalent is Christina Hendricks: a woman who’s not necessarily the most beautiful person on Earth, but whom society has collectively decided it’s somewhat ‘okay’ to objectify. I imagine it has something to do with the fact that she’s also quite talented: if you’re going to be reductive, she’s quite a bit harder to ‘reduce’ than, say … Olivia Wilde.

On the basis of Crazy, Stupid, Love., the same is also true of Gosling. Alongside Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone and others, he helps to make the film one of the best relationship dramedies — ‘rom-com’ is a little misleading — in recent memory. It’s a film that subverts its audience’s genre expectations without making a big song and dance about it, and crafts solid relateable characters without falling back on the star power of its impressive cast.

Sadly, like most recent films with supposedly progressive attitudes to sex and relationships, Crazy, Stupid, Love.‘s ending is a disappointingly conservative (and in this case, wholly nonsensical) affair, but it’s quite easy to forgive and forget when the film has already packed so many genuine narrative surprises into its not-at-all-boring 140-minute runtime. Less easy to forgive is the cluttered styling of the title, which I’ve been laboriously adhering to throughout this piece.

But the thing that really sticks with you after Crazy, Stupid, Love. (and the thing that’s most remarkable in an ensemble comedy) is the fact that all of the characters — with the exception of Marisa Tomei’s horribly maligned love interest — feel entirely honest. They all have their own distinct desires, dreams and fears and these are communicated to the audience delicately rather than being taken as read. It’s the sort of film that makes you want to tell the people close to you important things, while reassuring you that doing so might not be the end of the world. Which might explain why everyone’s so comfortable talking about how badly they want to fuck Ryan Gosling: because in this rare case, society says it’s okay to do so.

I say, why reserve this attitude for Gosling? Why not review all movies in this admittedly blunt, but nonetheless sincere, manner? Melancholia? Kirsten Dunst would get it. Real Steel? Ditto Evangeline Lilly. And Drive? Christina Hendricks, obvz.