Dueling Film Reviews - Round One: JDub on "Chasing Amy"

Posted 3/26/2010 by JDub in Labels: , , , ,
Kevin Smith's (aka Silent Bob) 1997 film "Chasing Amy" treads through some of the same territory as the Disney movies we've been discussing. Holden (Ben Affleck) and his partner Banky (Jason Lee) are partnered comic book artists whose friendship is put through the wringer when Holden falls for Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams).

For Holden, the trouble with Alyssa is that she turns out to be a lesbian, but naturally he persists and is eventually successful in sparking a loving romantic relationship with her. This effectively alienates Banky, who feels their friendship threatened.

When Holden then learns of Alyssa's sexually adventurous past, it causes him to feel inadequate and inexperienced, which gives him cause to melodramatically call their otherwise thriving romance into question.

But he has a plan after all. Holden's instinct is to find a way to line his real life up with his ideal life floating around in his head (because the story must end with a "happily ever after"). The only way he sees to gain some experience, get closer with Alyssa, and simultaneously fill the rift between him and Banky is through a thoughtfully contrived threesome.

Holden must propose the idea to his best friend and girlfriend as they sit side-by-side on the couch, and I must say that Ben Affleck really nails the scene. Molding the world to fit his vision has clearly become a labor of love, and he can almost taste that greener grass.

Banky agrees, but Alyssa insists that part of her life is over, and she also won't share Holden with anyone. Holden's insistence that he needs the experience and his relationships will be better for it is now at the expense of Alyssa and Banky's reality. Creating an "unreal" version of themselves simply to appease Holden's desires is not only too much to ask of his friends, but it also creates an unreal resolution to a real problem.

Holden's plan drives the three apart in the end, and this makes way for a "one year later" prologue scene. At a comic signing, Holden spots Banky from across the room and the two share a wordless conversation that seems to say "not yet dude, but some day, time will heal these wounds."

Holden has poured his emotions and experience into a comic which overtly details his and Alyssa's story, and he hadn't even changed their names. The camera allows the viewer to see a panel dominated by the words "I'm sorry Alyssa, wherever you are," and Holden leaves the room having said what he came to say.

But what does this sappy overwrought comic book mean for Holden's character? Maybe relegating his failures to a fictional-feeling comic book can allow everyone to "close the book" on that part of their story together. Maybe Holden is a dynamic character after all, having realized that forcing his girlfriend and best friend into a contrived threesome was probably not the best idea.

Or maybe the sappy overwrought comic book represents a thriving obsession with his failed fantasy. Maybe Holden was hoping he'd be able to tell his kids that his awesome comic book changed things between him and Alyssa forever, and that he definitely hasn't crossed the line between thoughtful and fanatic.

It's unclear to me which is the case. Anyone care to comment?

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