Breaking Up (1997)

(On VHS, May 2001) It’s hard to see where a romantic comedy could go wrong while featuring Russell Crowe and Salma Hayek on-screen for nearly 95% of its duration. The answer is that romantic comedies are supposed to be funny, and romantic. This one isn’t. Like so many independent films, Breaking Up wants to be different, and its idea of different is to foreshadow a break-up for 90 minutes, and then have it happen. Insert cries of disbelief from the audience. Not only is it unsatisfying in itself (everyone loves a happy ending), but it also pretty much makes the whole film feel useless. Fortunately, two or three things save the film from total collapse: The lead actors are completely adorable as their respective archetypes, the writing is decent and the direction has very good moments. But be prepared for one downer of a conclusion.

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