Some Kind of Beautiful: Brosnan, Hayek & Alba in Exasperatingly Cliched Rom-Com
Jessica AlbaMalcolm McDowell...
In 1 Cinema
You’ve got to feel sorry for Pierce Brosnan; it’s difficult to evaluate how good an actor he is because it’s impossible to picture him outside of his stint as James Bond and, for us at least, he will be most remembered for getting a antelope thrown at his head by Robin Williams in Mrs Doubtfire in that strangely satisfying pool scene.
In fact, these two roles have come to define his career and his roles often fit into one of two categories – smooth, charming Englishman, or slimy Casanova. His role as a Cambridge poetry professor in romantic comedy, Some Kind of Beautiful, straddles the line between both, but only serves to prove that this very particular 90s style of rom-com is becoming less and less relevant.
The story goes like this; womanising professor, Richard Haig, impregnates a student of his, Kate (Alba), and tries to do right by her, by putting a ring on it, so to speak, and moving from England to California. Their imposed married life soon comes crashing down when Kate falls for another man, but Richard stays close to his son. Down on his luck and facing possible deportation, Richard finds solace in Kate’s step-sister, Olivia, who comes to develop feelings for him.
Directed by Tom Vaughan, the film pieces together the most trite rom-com clichés to sickly effect and frames its interpretation of romance in the most clichéd, and outdated, of ways. Brosnan’s character is pushed as a sort of misunderstood here; a victim of his own overflowing charm, his magnetism being as much a burden as it is a way to lure his unsuspecting students and other similarly beset women. Subsequently, Alba is painted as boring and promiscuous woman and essentially plays a bit-part in the telling of this most unnecessary of narratives. This in turn characterises Olivia as the fire-cracker woman who tames Richard. Granted, Hayek does the whole fiery Latino sexpot thing pretty well, but the whole thing folds one cliché into another – something that extends to Malcol McDowell’s turn as a forcibly amusing, grumpy old man, while Richard’s son does little but force a generic and hollow sense of sentimentality into proceedings.
In the end, the most interesting thing about this production, as harsh as it may seem, is that it’s another plaque on the Vaughan rom-com wall of shame – see Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher in 2008 flop, What Happens in Vegas. A film like this essentially suffers from what one might call like the domino cliché effect. Once the first cliché hits, it’s impossible to stop the rest.