By Faith Haushona-Kavamba
HOW to Be Single had the risk of being just another run-of-the-mill rom-com with nothing new to offer on the genre.
However, it was the strong message on how women do not need to find partners to truly be happy that saved it. It revisits the concept of the traditional rom-coms, moving it away from Eros love (romantic love) to Philautia (loving oneself).
But that is not to say that it is without its faults; it did not veer away from some of the typical rom-com clichés, which had the potential to cause its downfall. Clichés like one of the characters realising towards the end they had feelings for someone all along.
The movie follows the lives of four women and how they try to navigate their way through being single in New York.
It begins with Alice (Dakota Johnson) who asks to take a break from her college boyfriend Josh (Nicholas Braun) because she has never been on her own and single.
She temporarily moves in with her sister Meg (Leslie Mann), a doctor who refuses to get into any relationship after a bad break-up.
At work, Alice makes friends with her co-worker Robin (Rebel Wilson), who encourages her to embrace the life of a single woman and experiment with as many guys as she wishes to, so as to stop being the woman who is consumed with relationships.
The line-up of women is completed by Lucy (Alison Brie), who is on multiple dating websites in a quest to find the one. Tom (Anders Holm), Ken (Jake Lacy), George (Jason Mantzoukas) and David (Damon Wayans Jr) are recurring cast members who star as the love interest of the various women.
Although Johnson’s acting often borders on the mediocre, the star-studded cast of comedic heavyweights works well to rescue it from the boring and lacklustre fate it was skirting around.
Wilson is effortless in her role as the carefree-sidekick who seems to be the only one who is content with how their life is going, regardless of the fact that her vices of promiscuity and heavy-drinking are frowned upon. Her character does not extend beyond that, and not much about her life (or wealth) is explained, giving the impression that her role was merely to be Johnson’s partner in crime.
Lucy’s role in the movie is also questionable, as she seems to only be a ship passing in the night where the other women are concerned, with the only connection to them being Tom. Her appearance at Alice’s birthday party, when the two are not friends proves that point.
As far as movie climaxes goes, How to Be Single’s felt more like an anti-climax, as Robin scolds Alice for not willing to be single, and the latter sauntering off to make-out with her ex-boyfriend, who reveals he is getting married and merely wanted closure.
It does not have all the bells and whistles of the best climaxes, but it works because the goal is to make it relatable and as reflective to real life as possible, which it is.
Unfortunately, in a quest to build an intricate body of characters, like Lucy, David’s presence in the movie is also questionable, even more so when more time is given for exploration of his backstory that explains his inability to commit to Alice.
That just goes to speak to the fact that there are areas in which the movie excels and other areas where it fumbles. If not for re-imagining a genre that many think has nothing new to offer, one hopes it gets credit for showing the Taylor Swifts of this world that it is okay to be single.
HTBS is now available for rent
on DSTV Box office for N$30
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015