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Learning from movie romance

Mary Squillace | Tuesday, January 24, 2006

As January melts away into February, one can’t help but think of the chalky conversation hearts, red roses and love- or sugar-induced euphoria that the upcoming month inevitably brings. Furthermore, with Valentine’s Day looming on the horizon, some of us might feel the need to quickly master the art of romantic relationships in time to receive Valentine’s affections in a form that does not merely consist of the words “Love, Mom.”

However, in an environment where the road to romance is often the same path that leads to TC on the weekends and “dating” does not entail actually going on a date ever, where can Domers turn for guidance?

By now, our compulsive insideND checks have revealed that romance isn’t exactly an integral part of academia. And by turning to parental wisdom, we run the risk of hearing them recount personal tales of “going steady” back in the day … or worse. Instead, seeing as most Hollywood films are synonymous with “happy endings,” we can turn to the seemingly foolproof antics of some of our favorite characters in hopes that, by emulating them, we too will be graced with all the love Hallmark can provide.

First of all, deception and false pretenses are key. Sure, all our lives we’ve heard that honesty is the best policy, but according to the relationships that unfold on the big screen, a little white lie, or even a false identity, is the ticket to true love, as long as the truth surfaces eventually.

Fabricating a name, profession or identity are practically commonplace when it comes to cinematic couplings. Just check-out “Wedding Crashers” or “Maid in Manhattan.” In fact, going as far as dressing in drag seems to be a great way to break the ice and ignite some kind of passion, as illustrated by films like “Tootsie” and “Shakespeare in Love.”

Also in this vein, relationships that are spawned from some kind of bet or deal end particularly well. “She’s All That” and “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” both lend themselves to this notion.

Of course, any romantic hero is only as good as the dramatic gestures he or she makes. While Shakespeare’s Romeo set the trend centuries ago with his impromptu visit to Juliet’s balcony, his success has been cemented on screen by a variety of love-struck characters, such as “Say Anything”‘s Lloyd Dobbler, who sends his love via a stereo, courtesy of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.”

Although, if the prospect of shouting sweet nothings to a second floor window on Notre Dame Avenue raises the concern of a potential restraining order, there are plenty of other outlets for expressing your most heartfelt romantic emotions. Take “The Wedding Singer”‘s Robbie Hart, for example, who offered the object of his affection an original song.

Regardless of how the sentiment is expressed, there also appears to be a particular pattern that might help us all select Ms. or Mr. Right. Straight-laced, uptight males should be seeking their more cheerful and eccentric counterpart in the women they date. This formula proves to be flawless in the films “Pretty Woman” and “Along Came Polly.”

Though, this trend is not strictly limited to typical romantic comedies. Even films with critical acclaim and audiences within more of an indie market point to the “opposites attract” paradigm. “Garden State” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” offer similarly-constructed relationships. Shy, brooding boy meets kooky or volatile girl, and voila! A life-altering love affair ensues.

Finally, as the movies have it, in order to cement a Hollywood-esque romance, it is essential that you take part in any of the following: literally bumping into someone, some kind of chase or embracing in front of a crowd. Ideally, this should happen in the rain while a ballad plays in the background.

With such realistic representations of relationships in film that can be attained through following narrative conventions, it’s a wonder why any of us struggle with relationships in the first place.

Contact Mary Squillace at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.