So I watched Chasing Amy…
It’s always great when someone asks me my views on a movie. For two reasons: 1. I love movies and 2. I love ranting on and on about movies. It’s less pleasurable though when I actually haven’t watched the movie in question. So thanks Marko for asking me what I thought of this film, here are my thoughts…
Okay, basic plot: Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) is a comic book artist who along with his best friend, Banky Edwards (Jason Lee), works on a comic book called Bluntman and Chronic. One day – at a comic book convention – Holden and Banky meet fellow comic book writer, Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams). Holden is instantly attracted to Alyssa and she’s also interested in spending time with him. Only problem is that Alyssa is a lesbian and only sees Holden as a friend. Holden is undeterred and continues pursuing her to the annoyance of Banky who thinks Holden is setting himself up for failure.
I love Indie films. They always seem to have this freedom that big studio pictures aren’t allowed. After watching a studio film you can almost always categorise it – either as a comedy, action, romance etc; but when you watch an Indie film, it’s much more difficult to fit it into just one box. That’s the delightful conundrum I had after watching Chasing Amy. It’s funny but it isn’t just a comedy. It’s focus is a love story but it isn’t just a romance or romcom film. It fits into several genres and categories but isn’t limited to any of them. That’s what you have to love about Indie films – they’re perfect representations of life. Life isn’t one note or simply black or white; it’s a kaleidoscope with multiple colours existing and constantly blending with one another.
The love story at the heart of this film’s plot is an interesting one. A heterosexual man falling in love with a homosexual woman definitely isn’t conventional in any sense of the word. The beauty of the story is that while this film’s love story is on the extreme end of the spectrum, it manages to show the inherent conflict that exists in even the most mundane relationships. A constant theme in the film is that of insecurity – the fear that you won’t be enough in the eyes of your partner. If your partner is beautiful, you worry that you aren’t attractive enough to be with them. If they’re smart, you start to question your intelligence in relation to theirs.
This theme of “meeting expectations” is explored throughout the film and the issue of contradicting sexual orientations is only the tip of the iceberg . I won’t get into spoilers but as the film progresses it becomes clear that the insecurities we have about relationships have nothing to do with what we think our partners expects from us but rather what we expect from ourselves. It’s a wonderful dissection and examination of the nature of relationships. This isn’t confined to the relationship between Holden and Alyssa and actually spills out into other characters in the film who are pretending to be things they’re not to meet people’s expectations.
Now the film is thought-provoking but it also has plenty of humour and is fun to watch. Kevin Smith – who wrote and directed the film – is a self-proclaimed nerd and gives us a look into the world of comic books before Marvel made them “cool”. Smith’s script also explores other deeper issues quite well. Issues such as homophobia and racism are explored with real humour and genuine moments of entertainment.
Being an Indie film, Chasing Amy doesn’t have the world’s largest budget and there’s a particular scene where this becomes evident. The film’s first and last scene are identical. Not similar, identical. The scene is re-used and most people won’t really notice it. Now this re-use of the scene may have been down to budget restrictions but then I started thinking that it may be a subtle and brilliant piece of storytelling by Kevin Smith. Does he use the same scene to showcase how cyclical life is? To emphasise that even if things change our lives tend to be filled with repititions. Routine. That we’re doomed to make the same mistakes over and over? Perhaps I’m giving him too much credit…
The acting in this film is delightful. Ben Affleck and Jason Lee do well as Holden and Banky. Affleck’s portrayal of the hopeless romantic Holden is expertly tempered by Lee’s portrayal of the pessimistic and grouchy Banky. The two have great chemistry together and you never doubt that they’re friends. Dwight Ewell who stars as fellow comic book writer, Hooper gives my favourite performance of the film. Hooper is an excellently written character and Ewell delivers a fantastic performance giving the character both complexity and humour. The only performance I didn’t enjoy was that of Joey Lauren Adams as Alyssa. I found Adams to often be guilty of over-acting and – though the character was inspired by her – she never feels comfortable in its skin.
Overall, Chasing Amy is a wonderful look at the intricacies of falling in love with someone and the damage that your own expectations can cause. It’s also a very funny film with some great performances. 7/10