Sunday, February 26, 2017

Steve's Top Ten Films: Chasing Amy

Some might find it interesting that Chasing Amy is the only comic book-related film in my top ten.  And, it is only a comic book movie in that it is set within the workings of the comic book industry and makes references only those familiar with the genre would clearly understand.  One of the opening scenes takes place at a comicon, and it remains to this day one of the most authentic-looking depictions of a con I have ever seen on film.  Sure, it ventures at times into cartoonishness with the inker vs. tracer debate and the comic book panel discussion in which the character of Hooper X delivers his hilarious deconstruction of the Star Wars trilogy.  But, the feel of the con is spot on, right down to how the attendees look and act.

Written and directed by Kevin Smith, a comic book aficionado himself, Chasing Amy was something of a comeback for Smith, who had an indie success with Clerks but then misstepped in a big way with the dead-in-the-water Mallrats.  Chasing Amy showcased his writing talent and his ability to create interesting characters who find themselves in situations that involve authentic emotions, not just tongue-in-cheek slapstick or toilet humor, although there is plenty of both in Chasing Amy.

The story is about a comic writer/artist named Holden, who befriends and then falls in love with a fellow comic book writer/artist named Alyssa.  The problem initially is that Alyssa is openly gay, and so it seems there friendship will not advance to romance.  But, one thing leads to another, and the two begin a romance.  More problems arise when details about Alyssa's past comes to light, and Holden is torn on how to handle knowing the information.

Yes, this sounds like the typical set up for a standard romantic comedy, but Chasing Amy transcends the genre by having the characters' choices carry real weight and ramifications.  There are no sudden revelations that fix all the conflicts, no last minute reconciliations that give everyone a happily-ever-after.  Instead, we get a story about characters who are maturing into adults, accompanied by all the pain and heartache that comes with it.

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