Addicted to Love and One Fine Day are inextricably linked in my mind as two of the last gasps of the romantic comedy genre. Both are set in New York, and both feature romances between seemingly ill-matched couples. I’ve often set these films side by side on the small screen, in a rather obvious homage to each other, always realising they are far too different to be considered similar at all.Addicted to Love is set in Greenwich Village, and the city is treated as another character in this dark tale of jilted lovers Maggie (Meg Ryan) and Sam (Matthew Broderick), whose paths cross when they discover that their ex-partners are now living with each other. Sam hopes to win back the affections of school teacher Linda (Kelly Preston), but Maggie’s only intention is to see former lover Anton (Tcheky Karyo) “in pain, hopeless and finished off.”Addicted to Love is more ambitious than One Fine Day and you really have to dig beneath the facade of this film to find its hidden layer of sweetness and silver linings. Director Griffin Dunne constantly surprises with his careful shot compositions, making the viewer as much of a spy as Ryan and Broderick, who use a camera obscura to observe their former flames, all the while hatching an elaborate plan to avenge their sadly-broken hearts.Meg Ryan trades in much of her usual sparkle here to play the abrasive, hard-drinking Maggie and she cuts an indelible cinematic figure in her aviator goggles, feather boa and tie dye dress. She wears her hair short and unkempt,and a rasping voice is Maggie’s ultimate embellishment, used to wonderful effect to deliver a plethora of risqué lines to the straight-laced Sam.There’s never any real doubt about what’s going to eventually happen between this odd couple, and the main question is whether the 100 minutes between the beginning and the foregone conclusion can hold your attention. Addicted To Love delivers in spades, thanks to a healthy dose of clever dialogue and black humour, and a magnetic performance from Meg Ryan as Maggie.If you haven’t seen Addicted To Love I’d suggest you take a look at it. At first glance it might resemble When Maggie Met Sam in Soho via Seattle, but it did bring some originality to what had become a very predictable genre. If you’re prepared to give love a chance, this film might just surprise you.
In contrast to the inspired and salacious premise of Addicted to Love, Michael Hoffman’s One Fine Day is predictable flimflam from beginning to end. It’s the perfect film to pass a wet Sunday evening, as you face the prospect of a brutal Monday morning at work. The formula is all too familiar. Strangers meet in a big city, and share a frisson of attraction. They then spend the rest of the movie resisting their feelings until, in accordance with the bylaws of the Hollywood Cliché Code, love finally conquers all.Diametrically opposite Maggie and Sam in their “bohemian hellhole,” the bustling Upper East Side of New York is home to Melanie Parker (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Jack Taylor (George Clooney), two working single parents who meet-cute when their children miss a school field trip. Jack is a cavalier newspaper columnist, Melanie is a conscientious architectural technician. They’re both late for work, have their bosses breathing down their necks, and are in dire need of somebody to take their children off their hands. So despite their mutual antagonism, they reluctantly agree to join forces.And so on. One Fine Day is the kind of movie you’ll sing along with, because Michelle Pfeiffer and New York City were never more beautiful. Across a myriad of rain-soaked locations, a wonderful lustre envelopes this film infusing it with a richness and romanticism. Where Addicted to Love is more overtly cerebral and sarcastic in its humour, Michelle and George’s verbal sparring is reminiscent of the screwball comedies of Hollywood’s golden age. Clooney and Pfeiffer are an appealing match, and even though it’s a given Jack will eventually sweep Melanie off her feet, refreshingly the outcome of their liaison isn’t a clichéd moment-of-realisation scene, but a more intellectual accord forged between two eminently compatible people, who are tired of the tongue-tied multitude.“Cinema is the history of boys photographing girls.” Or so Jean-Luc Godard has been quoted as saying. I was reminded of those words when watching the cool, buttoned-up Melanie Parker and coarsely sensual Maggie again recently. One can only gaze upon their luminous aura and wonder. How did they do that?