We Love… St Valentine: ‘Pretty Woman’

We Love... St Valentine

Illustration by Adeline Pericart

Get a bottle of Blue Nun, splash yourself with them cheap Christmas smellies your Auntie got you for Christmas, slip on your Penny’s underwear and turn up the stereo with the sweet, sweet sound of Barry White. And hey, if you have a partner that’s an added bonus. Yes, it’s that time of year, when St. Valentine comes to town. So in his honour the film lovers here at Film Ireland present their favourite lurve-themed films.

We’ll be adding to the list in the run-up to the 14th – check it out here. As always, feel free to add your own favourites. If you’d like to include your own review, contact steven@filmbase.ie

Now let’s get it on…

Pretty Woman

Gemma Creagh

Nothing says romance more than hookers and champagne.

Valentine’s Day is a day for lovers – even the professional ones. Pretty Woman is the perfect movie for a his-and-hers romantic compromise; sweet, touching, great story, a very handsome Richard Gere and Julia Robert’s boobs.

This touching 1990 romantic comedy is the ultimate Cinderella story: an LA call-girl, Vivian’s (Roberts) life changes one night while she’s out working the streets with her drug-addicted friend. On Hollywood Boulevard she has a chance meeting with Edward, (Gere) a focused businessman, which ends with him hiring her services for a week. Over their time spent together; he wines her, dines her and finds out they have more in common than they originally thought.

Amidst the synthy eighties ballads, the coolots, and the eerie sweeping shots of the Twin Towers, there’s a brilliant warts-and-all love story. Two extremely diverse and flawed characters from two conflicting worlds meet only to change each other’s lives forever. Yes, it sounds so cheesy on paper but Pretty Woman is such a well-written and brilliantly acted film that it oozes sincerity – the one thing that’s missing from 99 out of 100 rom-coms that grace our cinemas at the minute(I’m pointing a finger at YOU Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher).

But what a different film Pretty Woman could have been… According to highly reliable online sources, the first incarnation of the script was not the adorable feature that we all know and love today; it was actually a dark drama about prostitution in LA. Originally titled $3,000 this very different version saw the lovable Vivian character addicted to drugs – and her deal with Edward was staying off cocaine for the week. Instead of the [Spoiler Alert] uplifting fairytale ending; the previous incarnation’s finale saw Vivian and her prostitute buddy on a bus to Disneyland. More heart-breaking than warming.

Also before they settled on the dashing Richard Gere, the execs had a few alternates lined-up for the part of Edward. Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve and apparently SYLVESTER STALLONE all turned down the chance of playing the iconic male lead – and what a depressing disaster that could have been.

Luckily for us, Pretty Woman made it through the wringer at the Hollywood factory and came out the other end shinier than ever. A romantic classic and an enjoyable film, Pretty Woman will be the source of many heartfelt smiles long after the botox has inhibited these in both its leads.

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duplicity DIR/WRI: Tony Gilroy • PRO: Laura Bickford, Jennifer Fox, John Gilroy, Kerry Orent • DOP: Robert Elswit • ED: John Gilroy • DES: Kevin Thompson • CAST: Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Giamatti

Does the world of film need a double dose of Clive Owen? Whatever you may think, from 20th March he can be seen in cinemas out-acted by his suits in two films: The International and Duplicity. His cold, frying pan face betrays a lack of emotion and an abundant ability to take himself too seriously. Gone are the days when he displayed signs of genuine potential.

Duplicity is written and directed by Tony Gilroy, who was responsible for the critically acclaimed Michael Clayton. Julie Roberts stars alongside Clive Owen as a pair of corporate spies who come together to pull off a double-crossing scam between two rival multinational corporations, headed by Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton) and Paul Giamatti (Sideways) – who steals the show by doing his best Wacky Races villain Dick Dastardly impersonation and provides welcome comic relief. At one point, Giamatti says of the apparent lack of success of his rival’s company that: ‘Stocks are down, porn is up, and there’s plenty of free parking.’

As the title suggests, Duplicity is concerned with double-dealing, insincerity and issues of trust. The main one being between Owen and Roberts who, as lovers, are never sure if the other is ‘playing’ them in order to pull off the scam for themselves. In the exchanges between the two, Roberts reminds us what a fine actress she is. She is, as is the case with many of her roles, too good for the material she’s given.

Taylor directs with a verve that attempts to breathe life into the unnecessarily convoluted plot. He pulls out all the flashy tricks of split-screen, slo-mos (the film’s highlight being the hilarious attempt at scrapping between the two rival bosses) and continual narrative leaping from present to past and back again. The film travels to exotic locations all over the world in an effort to demonstrate its style and cover the fact that the narrative’s apparent sophistication is a ruse disguising a simple premise. Ultimately, Duplicity is rather like a baby orangutan in a nappy – it looks beautiful, but stinks.

Stephen Galvin
(See biog here)

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
is released on 20th March 2009
Duplicity – Official website