Down With Love


Directed by: Peyton Reed
Written by:Eve Ahlert, Dennis Drake
Starring: Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, David Hyde Pierce, Sarah Paulson, Tony Randall
Released: August 14, 2003
Grade: B+

Set in New York 1962, Down With Love even looks like it was filmed in the 60s.  The film is a tribute to the romantic comedies of that era which I’m sure was the quality which attracted big-name actors Renee Zellweger (Chicago) and Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting) to the project.

Renee is Barbara Novak, a writer.  Her first book, Down With Love, has rocketed to the top of the best-seller list and women all over the world are reading it with keen interest.  With women frequently overlooked in the workplace, Novak’s book teaches women how not to let men manipulate them and by withholding love, they can have any man at their mercy.

Ewan is Catcher Block, a journalist.  Before the book’s release, he was asked to write a feature article on Novak but having not met her, he passed on the chance thinking her to be some old “spinster”.  When Novak throws in a sly remark ridiculing Block during an appearance on The Ed Sullvian Show, he’s not happy.  Further, all the women around town he sleeps with are giving him the cold shoulder thanks to advice in Novak’s book.  It’s time to get even.

As the two have never met, Catcher poses as Zip Martin, an astronaut with a bachelor pad in New York.  He begins his quest to woo Barbara and have her fall in love.  All goes to plan but Catcher too finds himself smitten with Barbara.  Both though have tricks up their sleeve and the question as to who has the upper hand remains open until the very end.

It’s a sweet film which I’m sure will attract ten female patrons for every one male.  Zellweger is ideal for the role with her high-pitched cutesy-poo voice.  She is asked to extend her ability as an actress with several long monologues and she meets the challenge.  McGregor isn’t as strong with more laughs coming from his boss, played by Frasier’s David Hyde Pierce.  There’s also a cameo from Tony Randall but I thought his role would have been much bigger considering his stature.

You can tell the costume designers and set decorators have had fun.  There’s a wild mix of colours on every outfit and in every location.  You’d think we were back in the era when colour movies were first made – when colours were exploited to dazzle the audience.  Hopefully the talented crew responsible for these attributes aren’t overlooked come the next award season.

I took pleasure in the way the story ended with its quick little twist.  Whilst the romance won’t move many patrons (especially men), you have to acknowledge the film’s style and the effort made to create something fresh.  Up with Down With Love.