Friday, October 23, 2015

Roman Holiday . . . maybe a little late with this one

Roman Holiday is considered one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time. It stars Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, and as someone that's always been a fan of Audrey Hepburn from "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "My Fair Lady", I figured it was past time for me to watch such a seminal movie.


For such a heralded movie, it was hard not to be more than a little annoyed by how much of a douchebag the leading male, Joe Bradley played by Gregory Peck, was being throughout the setup. Perfectly civil when he thought Audrey Hepburn's character, Princess Ann "Anya", had nothing to offer, then once he realized how much money she could make him, he turned into a horrible human being; even going so far as to try to steal a camera from a little girl.

It's hard not to see this as the clunky set-up-the-male-to-be-a-douchebag-so-there's-some-artificial-drama-that-wouldn't-normally-be-an-issue-if-the-characters-acted-reasonably, and yet, it's really not. In hindsight, the character was written to be a specific way, and the interactions between the two caused growth that you don't normally see in rom-coms. The only growth typically seen in rom-coms is caused by the artificial separation introduced somewhere in the 2nd-3rd act, but this growth happened somewhat naturally, albeit rapidly since the movie takes place over the course of three days. Although I wouldn't have held these tropes against such an early film (it's not cliche if it's one of the first times done), it was nice that these were avoided mostly.

There's a slowness to classic films that I find hard to get over; rather, a deliberateness that is mind-numbingly frustrating to watch. You can appreciate the set-up, but it doesn't jive with my ADHD. Some old ones you don't notice it, but then there are others that are a bit too much. This movie took its time in several places, and you can hear the silence of not having a background score during these moments.

Still, I'm glad I watched the film. And the ending was masterful and beautiful. Really, really beautiful.