Is it possible to make a romantic comedy where you don’t root for anyone, just hoping a couple will get together for sake of closure? That’s what Something Borrowed manages to accomplish despite a first rate setup.
Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Darcy (Kate Hudson) have been best friends since they were children. Rachel’s the consummate good girl, always doing the right thing and bending to Darcy’s will. That includes with Dex (Colin Egglesefield), the man with whom she’s been in love with since they were study partners in law school. On her 30th birthday, Rachel and Dex drink too much and find themselves in bed together the next morning. From there it becomes a bit of an ethical dilemma for Rachel as she’s faced with the choice of a lifetime. Does she walk away from her best friend with the man of her dreams? Or does she let him walk away, if only because she always does the “right” thing?
Based off the novel of the same name by Emily Griffin, there’s a lot of great setup to the film. This isn’t set up like a normal romantic comedy, where Rachel and Dex would profess their feelings at the end with everyone walking away happy. This is a good relationship that starts from a bad thing and the two have to deal with their emotions for one another, which have been simmering for some time. Throw in the fact that Rachel is dealing with the pressure of being single at the age of 30, and the dilemma of “settling” thrown in, and you have the set up for a great drama or a really dark comedy. Even a comedy of the screwball variety could’ve given the film the sort of quirky, off-beat tone the material lends itself to.
The problem is that the film goes for none of these options, preferring to work the traditional light romantic comedy tone, and it throws the film off because none of these characters are hard to root for. A romantic comedy lives and breathes based on its characters, making it an easy story to tell but a difficult one to strike the best chord, and Something Borrowed wants desperately to be another type of film than what it is. This is a film where the happy ending isn’t quite as happy as it ought to be and yet the film wants everyone to walk away in a good light.
Rachel and Dex have a relationship predicated on both doing a bad thing, going behind the back of Darcy, yet neither are given enough depth to make us root for them. They look pleasing together, and they have decent chemistry, but we don’t have a reason to cheer for them. Even the one character we could feel sorry for, Darcy, is turned into a bit of a harpy with a significant reason to not like her either. When you have three characters in a love triangle, and none of them inspire a positive emotion, it’s hard to like any of them.
The only character we get to like is Ethan (John Krasinski), a sort of quasi-advisor to Rachel throughout the film as her close friend and wacky sidekick of sorts. Krasinski steals the film the brief moments he’s allowed into it with his usual dry wit. It’s odd that he gets the best lines in the film, of all characters, and the film gels with him in it. It’s similar to what he did in It’s Complicated, except that film took nearly the same material and gave it some depth and heart. Ethan is the one sane voice in the film that dares to elevate this material from light romantic fare to something better.
And that’s what this film lacks, that next gear following the setup to take this film into the direction it starts out. There’s something about dating as you get older in life, and the choices (and challenges of love) that the film wants to say but doesn’t because it’s stuck trying to be a crowd pleaser instead. Something Borrowed could be much more than what it is because of this.
Director: Luke Greenfield Notable Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson, John Krasinski, Colin Egglesefield Writer(s): Jennie Snyder Urman Based off the novel “Something Borrowed” by Emily Griffin