Why Rom-coms remain timeless

Image credit: Oxfam International

Films have age ratings. We don’t like children seeing content that’s unsuitable violently, sexually, or swearily. But romantically? It’s perfectly acceptable for the industry to peddle an idea of love that’s totally unrealistic and unattainable to impressionable younglings.

This isn’t the rom-coms only sin.  All sorts of inconsistencies are miraculously overlooked just so a woman can find The One and top a Good Career and Sassy Friends with Having It All. Who minded when the Prime Minister binned international diplomacy for the sake of junior member of staff off of Eastenders? Who doubted that, underneath the whole business-ruining, life-ambition-crushing, family-legacy-stamping, Meg Ryan really did want it to be Tom Hanks on the computer? Just to stretch his audience’s gullibility, Richard Curtis’s latest caper has only bloody gone and done time travel. That’s right, Time Travel. That thing that scientists are trying to solve. That thing for which comic-book enthusiasts have devised serious parameters and rules. That thing that Doctor Who has been doing semi-convincingly for fifty years. What does Curtis decide? Oh, Bill Nighy says you just screw up your fists in a cupboard, and this momentous technology will fit into place so that you don’t spill sun-cream over a pretty girl in a barely-disguised innuendo.

So how did I react in About Time? It’s obvious – I cried. The tears snowballed down my cheeks. As I did when Katherine Heigl gets screwed over by the wedding journalist, and when Kate Hudson realised Matthew McConaughey was more than a bet. I know it’s all inconceivable in real life, but even as I’m writing something that’s vaguely pro ‘love like in the movies’, all I can hear is a massive orchestral soundtrack building to a swell and I know a soppy montage sequence is on the horizon. Because these films are all, in some small way, beautiful, and I wouldn’t want to live without them. That’s all there is to it. So if you need me, I’ll be outside Maida Vale station, waiting for a time-travelling ginger man to come down the escalator in a Dalmatian onesie.

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