Director: Elizabeth Sankey
Cast: Jessica Barden, Charlie Lyne, Simran Hans, Brodie Lancaster, Anne T Donahue, Cameron Cooke, Eleanor McDowall, Laura Snapes
Run time:79 min
Synopsis: ROMANTIC COMEDY is a documentary that goes beneath the surface of some of our favourite films, seeking to better understand the way we view love, relationships and romance. Romantic comedies are hugely successful and deeply loved by many but often have avoided critical analysis. Helped by a diverse chorus of writers, actors, and film-makers, and with original songs by her band Summer Camp, director Elizabeth Sankey embarks on a journey of investigation and self-discovery.
This low budget, first feature is a beautifully crafted, witty and critical love letter to romantic comedies, that also reveals Elizabeth’s own complicated relationship with the genre.
Although the films are pivotal to the love lives of so many people, Elizabeth knows that many set up an unreliable narrative of human behaviour.
She recruits film critics, actors and fellow film-makers to discuss the history of romantic comedies. Through voice-overs to movie clips, they analyse how rom-coms influence our culture’s ideas on love and relationships, and how they could improve to be more representative and inclusive in our modern times, raising the idea of platonic rom-coms, as one example.
From the golden years of Hollywood to the present day – with great affection -Elizabeth reclaims the genre from the dismissive comments of most critics. With a montage of over 160 films from 1934 to 2018, she analyses everything we know about the genre.
Exploring the idealized, white-washed, homonormative love fantasies that romantic comedies have been perpetrating since the dawn of cinema, Elizabeth points out that the industry has much work to do. Most of these romantic comedies display white heterosexual middle class couples. Where are the people of colour? How many LGBTQ couples do we see in studio comedies, let alone a rom-com with a transgender actor in a leading role? She does feature a number of films that go against the tide and that did not have box office success – Alice Wu’s Saving Face (2004) and Ben A Williams’ The Pass (2016).
Romantic Comedy brings a new perspective to many of our favourite films, and is enormously entertaining and worth repeat viewings. Despite the stereotypes and clichés on display, it reminds us that we like to see people connect and fall in love.
Elizabeth’s indie-pop Summer Camp bandmate Jeremy Warmsley composed the fresh and touching soundtrack to the film, which they performed together in a live-score at the Glasgow Film Festival 2020.
Screening now on MUBI
Images courtesy of MUBI