I was looking for a romantic comedy to watch the other day and stumbled upon How To Be Single, which I assumed would be a little less predictable than your average Hollywood love story. The film focuses on four main female leads: Alice, who is trying to find herself after having just got out of a long relationship; Robin, a party animal with no sense of the word ‘attachment’; Meg, Alice’s older sister who is a midwife and yet has never had a particular desire to be in a relationship or have a baby herself and Lucy, who is desperately on the hunt for ‘the one’.
I was quite disappointed with the film on the whole and didn’t find myself aligning myself with any of the characters although I did think that Alice was the most plausible. The film had lots of very funny moments which kept me involved and I was on my toes as I didn’t know what outcomes to expect. Robin is Alice’s colleague and the two quickly become friends although their view on relationships couldn’t be more poles apart. Robin loves to party, sleep with lots of different guys and obviously really enjoys being single, whereas Alice feels like it’s necessary for herself to experience single life but she isn’t very good at it and struggles a lot (doesn’t help that her ex-boyfriend Josh keeps cropping up all over New York.) Alice’s older sister, Meg, decides she wants to become a mother and so undergoes IVF treatment. During the film, she becomes romantically involved with Ken, who starts off as a one night stand but eventually ends up getting together with Meg and by the end of the film, he is technically a father to the baby. Lucy tries internet dating and finally ends up getting married, leaving a disappointed Tom watching from afar.This film was a rather bizarre experience as it had all the features of a rom-com but without…any romance (although there was definitely a romantic undercurrent.) I feel as if the subject would have been better explored had the film strayed from certain Hollywood tropes and included a wider diversity of characters. Save Alice, the characters that ended up single were the ones that knew outright that they liked being sexually free and while this makes sense, it kind of pushed aside the fact that there are a lot of single people who are single just because they want to be, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they enjoy sleeping with lots of people. I’m glad the film highlighted sexual liberty, though.
I quite enjoyed watching Alice’s character mature as I feel like she desperately needed to go through what she went through and by the end, she climbs the Grand Canyon, which has been one of her biggest goals. At the very start I felt a little sorry for Josh but that feeling quickly dissipated when he started being a dick: finding someone else in such a short space of time; inviting Alice to his Christmas ‘do and pretending she was his cousin; making out with her and wanting more despite being engaged…like, what is this guy playing at? It was good for Alice to finally realise that she needed to stop holding onto Josh and move on. Meg’s story was quite sweet as I think it made sense for her and Ken to end up together – like she says, even though she could raise the baby by herself, she doesn’t want to, and if there’s someone there for her that loves her and is willing to be a part of the family, then what’s stopping her? As for Lucy and Tom, I half-expected them to end up together but I think it was also good that they didn’t – it was more realistic and in a sense, the events that led up to Lucy getting married also allowed Tom to rethink what he wanted and therefore he might have benefitted in the end. Like I said, it was a rather bizarre film; I think that because we are so used to couples coming together and making the story ‘complete’, this didn’t feel like a complete film…perhaps the story of a singleton cannot work in a film because there is no obvious goal achieved or desire attained but I suppose How To Be Single was angling towards that, in a way. Perhaps in some respect – where films are concerned anyway – characters are often defined by romantic relationships and those that are single are highlighted in films for other reasons than their relationship status. They are given the limelight for other reasons.
All in all, it wasn’t the best film I’ve watched; it tried to be different but that didn’t really work out well. Was also not impressed but not surprised by the lack of gay characters / characters of colour etc. Worth a watch for a lot of laughs!