A Potential Rom-Com Savior Emerges: “Anyone But You”

Movie Bunker Score:
3.5/5

Anyone But You

Release: 2023-12-21Genre: ComedyDuration: 104 minsBudget: $ 25,000,000
Overview

After an amazing first date, Bea and Ben’s fiery attraction turns ice cold — until they find themselves unexpectedly reunited at a destination wedding in Australia. So they do what any two mature adults would do: pretend to be a couple.

Anyone But You

Release: 2023-12-21Genre: ComedyDuration: 104 minsBudget: $ 25,000,000
Overview

After an amazing first date, Bea and Ben’s fiery attraction turns ice cold — until they find themselves unexpectedly reunited at a destination wedding in Australia. So they do what any two mature adults would do: pretend to be a couple.

As the 2010s witnessed a decline in mid-budget Hollywood films, the romantic comedy genre faced an uncertain future. In 2018, Claire Scanlon and Katie Silberman’s “Set It Up,” starring Glen Powell and Zoey Deutch, hinted at a revival. Fast forward five years, and the fate of rom-coms remains uncertain. However, a new star-driven film, “Anyone But You,” directed by Will Gluck and co-written by Ilana Wolpert, brings back the charm, wit, and star chemistry absent in recent lackluster genre entries.

A loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” Powell takes center stage as Ben, a finance professional masking emotional wounds with a carefree lifestyle. He encounters Bea (Sydney Sweeney), a law student questioning her career path. Instant sparks fly between the two during a day and night filled with passionate conversation, grilled cheese indulgence, and vulnerable sharing. The story unfolds as Bea, waking up on Ben’s couch, hesitantly flees without a word, only to regret her decision and return to find Ben expressing hurtful sentiments about their night.

Several months later, Ben and Bea’s paths cross again, leading to chaotic encounters during a destination wedding in Australia. The wedding party intervenes, attempting to orchestrate their union to maintain peace. The couple reluctantly plays along, hoping to deter Bea’s persistent parents and make Ben’s ex jealous. As expected, the plan goes awry, but true love eventually triumphs.

Similar to Gluck’s modern take on “The Scarlet Letter” in “Easy A,” “Anyone But You” revitalizes a classic narrative with contemporary characters and themes. Ben, emotionally guarded, and Bea, a risk-averse law student, navigate their lives while struggling to communicate authentically.

Despite a robust supporting cast, the film centers on Powell and Sweeney, whose on-screen chemistry is reminiscent of classic pairings. The film skillfully uses medium and close-up shots to highlight their characters’ intensity and shared melancholy. While the film features comedic moments, its true brilliance lies in scenes where Ben and Bea genuinely see each other, finding the courage to embrace their authentic selves.

Powell’s scruffy charm, reminiscent of Kurt Russell in “Overboard,” and Sweeney’s captivating portrayal, akin to Melanie Griffith in “Working Girl,” elevate the film. The duo’s chemistry is palpable, amplified by Gluck’s creative visual techniques that subvert expectations for an R-rated comedy. Nudity is present, but Gluck focuses on Powell’s physique, using it for humorous sight gags. Additionally, Sweeney’s petite frame is strategically placed in comedic situations, showcasing her slapstick prowess.

The film’s comedic moments seamlessly contrast with its romantic elements, offering fresh takes on well-known tropes. From shared grilled cheese moments to Bea serenading Ben with Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten,” the film reimagines traditional romantic gestures. The final declaration of love departs from conventional ultimatums, embracing a more emotionally complex understanding that true love involves wishing the best for someone, even if that future doesn’t include you. As the film suggests, the rest is still unwritten.

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