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Monday, June 24, 2024

Review: ‘Anyone But You’ proves rom-coms are a dying genre

The film was recently released on Netflix after a successful box office run in late 2023

 

By AALIYAH ESPAÑOL-RIVAS — arts@theaggie.org 

 

In the ever-evolving landscape of romance comedies, certain releases emerge as glimmers of hope, rekindling the popularity of the genre. Think back to films like “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,” “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Palm Springs.” Yet, amidst these films, the modern rom-com genre remains diluted with mediocrity, as most fade into obscurity right after their release. While the film “Anyone But You” initially seemed like an optimistic contender due to the buzz it received on social media, the film failed to leave a lasting impression on me.  

At the heart of any notable rom-com lies the crucial element of chemistry. Regrettably, “Anyone But You” fails to obtain this due to its lack of emotional depth and plot akin to a Wattpad story. The only defining factor that separates the film from any other rom-com is its budget, making it as forgettable as all three installments of “The Kissing Booth.”

The film follows Bea (Sydney Sweeney) and Ben (Glen Powell), two strangers who share an awkward interaction that ignites “instant sparks.” From that one interaction alone, they decide to have their first date the same day, leading to a night full of grilled cheese sandwiches, sharing secrets and sleeping together. However, when Bea leaves in the morning without telling Ben, he instantly gets defensive and tells his friend Pete how awful of a person Bea is. To his dismay, Bea overhears all of this and the two decidedly hate one another.

Flash forward to six months later, the two meet again at a bar when Bea’s sister announces she’s marrying Ben’s best friend’s sister. Following this, Bea and Ben embark to Australia, where the wedding party is forced to stay in a house together. But to no one’s surprise, the situation becomes even more awkward as both Bea and Ben’s exes are also there. Despite this, the two decide to fake a relationship to make their exes jealous. Just 40 minutes into the movie and there’s already a lovers-to-enemies plot, reappearing exes and fake dating. 

Yet Bea and Ben’s fake dating plan is horribly executed as their hatred for one another is made obvious through constant bickering which steals the spotlight from the main couple who is actually getting married. But it wouldn’t be a rom-com if there wasn’t romance, hence in the supposed climax of the film, the two realize that maybe they don’t want anyone else but themselves. Despite this, the third act brings another conflict for the two and shows how deeply flawed the two are. Ultimately, the two get together despite their differences, resulting in an ending sequence accompanied by the song “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield. 

Overall, the film exemplifies Hollywood’s problem with producing rom-coms: the prioritization of star power over genuine chemistry. This isn’t to criticize Sydney Sweeney’s or Glen Powell’s acting skills per say, but their portrayal of romance falls short of convincing. It’s almost as if so much and yet so little happens in the film due to the overshadowing of their lackluster acting as a couple.

If you want a predictable rom-com with oversexualized characters that don’t compensate for their lack of connection, then this is the film for you. 

 

Written by: Aaliyah Español-Rivas — arts@theaggie.org 

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