Posted : 11 months ago on 11 January 2013 09:11
"All every woman really wants, be it mother, senator, nun, is some serious deep-dickin'."
Though it contains the standard witty dialogue and laughs aplenty that we've come to expect from the man behind Clerks.
, 1997's Chasing Amy
is a different kind of Kevin Smith film. The writer-director baulked from recycling his Clerks.
formula yet again, instead concentrating his efforts on creating an unconventional love story handled in a mature, sensitive fashion, denoting a terrific change of pace for the filmmaker. Since Mallrats
underperformed on a $6 million budget and wasn't well received by critics, Smith returned to his low-budget indie roots here, producing the film for a tiny $250,000 sum. The independent sensibility is precisely why Chasing Amy
is so terrific; it examines contemporary romance with a stark, honest edge that few films have the balls to do. Life is presented as it is, without any sugar-coating.
Best friends Holden McNeil (Affleck) and Banky Edwards (Lee) are comic book artists who work together to create the popular "Bluntman and Chronic" comic. At a convention, Holden meets fellow artist Alyssa Jones (Adams), with whom he becomes instantly smitten. Unbeknownst to Holden at first, Alyssa is in fact a devout lesbian with a girlfriend. Despite his disappointment and frustration regarding Alyssa's sexual orientation, Holden becomes close friends with her, and soon finds himself falling deeply in love. Holden sets out to win Alyssa over, in the process creating distance between himself and Banky that threatens to tear the two apart.
Chasing Amy is, yes, a constituent of Smith's View Askewniverse; a cinematic world that connects Smith's various films through recurring characters, themes and blatant references. Thus, trademark View Askewniverse regulars Jay (Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith) appear here (the Bluntman and Chronic characters are based on them), and characters discuss memorable events from both Clerks. and Mallrats. Nevertheless, Chasing Amy is far more dramatic than its predecessors in spite of the laughs and jokes. This was a personal tale for Smith, who based the story on his experiences with his then-girlfriend Joey Lauren Adams, who plays Alyssa. Much like Alyssa, Adams was an adventuresome girl, and had done and seen a lot of things that Smith apparently struggled to deal with. This heightens the film's innate sense of realism, making this one of Smith's greatest writing endeavours to date.
Despite the Smith connection, Chasing Amy's closest cinematic relative is 1989's When Harry Met Sally, which similarly examines contemporary romance in a frank, biting manner while also being mightily hilarious. Chasing Amy benefits from Smith's top-flight scripting; the deconstruction of male dysfunction is spot-on and insightful, and the characters have plenty of frank conversations. Indeed, this picture contains some of the sharpest and most candid dialogue to ever emerge from the crude mind of the writer-director. The script is loaded with evidence of Smith's tremendous nerdiness too, as to be expected. A hilarious Star Wars discussion breaks out not long into the film and there's a brilliant Jaws parody, not to mention there are sly references to the likes of The Untouchables, The Breakfast Club and Outbreak. Owing to the low budget, Chasing Amy is not exactly attractive or bright, but the acting carries the picture and the music is excellent. Smith has a wonderful ear for songs, and David Pirner's original music is effective and memorable.
Without a doubt, the cast from top to bottom is flawless. Leading the cast is Ben Affleck, a veteran of Smith's cinematic universe who had a supporting role in Mallrats. Affleck is an amiable star, and his performance as Holden is charming and believable, not to mention he fulfils the dramatic requirements of his role with utmost confidence. Meanwhile, Adams - who was also in Mallrats - excels as Alyssa, and the fact that she's essentially playing herself makes her all the more credible. Adams had to shoulder a lot of emotional baggage, and she handled it beautifully. As good as Affleck and Adams are, though, the most outstanding performer here is Jason Lee. Another actor from Mallrats, Lee is a born comedian, and he's able to effortlessly digest every word of Smith's dialogue and spit it out with authority and abandon. He's simply a lightning rod, and his jokes are uproarious. Of course, Chasing Amy has its fair share of cameos: Jason Mewes and Smith are predictably funny as Jay and Silent Bob, and Matt Damon and Clerks. star Brian O'Halloran show up for a one-scene appearance. The list goes on. Suffice it to say, everyone hits their mark.
Yes, Chasing Amy looks like the low-rent production that it is, and, yeah, not every gag is a home run. Nevertheless, this is Smith's masterpiece; a side-splitting comedy, an indie classic and a powerful character drama. It's a film that matters because it's about something, and does not shy away from exploring issues that most filmmakers would baulk at. Although its fashions are now dated, Smith's script is imbued with truths that remain as relevant and familiar today as they were in 1997. Everyone will see a hint of themselves in the characters, and perhaps recognise a mistake that they might have made.
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