DIRECTED BY KEVIN SMITH
STARRING: BEN AFFLECK, JOEY LAUREN ADAMS, JASON LEE, DWIGHT EWELL with BRIAN O’HALLORAN, CASEY AFFLECK, JASON MEWES and KEVIN SMITH
There’s this scene in ‘Chasing Amy’ where Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams) reveals to her girlfriends that she’s dating a man who she thinks she’s possibly in love with. The group is disappointed, one of them says “another one bites the dust” – something I was thinking about at that moment, coincidentally, where I feared the film was about to take a delusional turn. But what was in store made me feel a whole lot better (by that I mean ‘a whole lot worse’) and I understood. It was a bad scene in a good film; irksome, but tolerably so. That aside, Kevin Smith gives us his best ever, where he handles the emotions in an everyday complex without resorting to too much of his characteristic, forced witticism. For once, his characters are more real than they’d ever get, something he’d resort to again only in ‘Zack and Miri make a Porno’. For once, they do more than repent – they hope and shout and shed tears than pass it all off as a comedic routine that’s otherwise called ‘life’. For Kevin Smith, it’s a first. For the viewer, it’s more than just a sigh of relief.
Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) blasts the whole concept out as the film nears its end in a fashion not unlike a press interview. The title never inspired hope in the first place and he slams the door harder on any prospect of reconciliation. But it’s not a dead end. It’s an endless road of dealing with oneself. A sort of purgatory where the ends wouldn't ever meet.
Ben Affleck is an endearing man. He has an overall laid-back gait superimposed on painfully-withheld emotions in his Holden McNeil, serving him to be more relatable than just ‘understood’. It took me just a car-confession to step inside his shoes; the scene where slap-happy turned sensitive in an uncontrolled upchuck. I empathized. Alyssa Jones, the film’s ‘Amy’ makes Summer Finn look absurd. It’s tough not to compare even if in contrasting eras, but we find that in this case there’s scope for none. Kevin Smith does that by manifesting himself in her striking originality. Alyssa, dressed in a lusty rendition by Joey Lauren Adams, is as talkative as Silent Bob is not, though she’s equally clear-cut with her sensibility. And it’s not just her: Banky Edwards (Jason Lee), Holden’s disapproving friend, tells him he’s too conservative to stomach someone like Alyssa. “She’s done things that we’ve only read about!” he tries to explain. I was amazed at how much that hit me. Isn’t there such a point of emasculation in every man’s life? It’s his pet concept that he coaxes to perfection with this film, having done a brief overview in ‘Clerks’. Even more impressive is how he manages to impact with the simplest of conversations. He has the rare ability to make representatives out of every single character than just the usual case of the male lead, as a result of which we have a film that eases you into vulnerability in all directions before a full-blown confrontation. This is exactly what I was looking for!
If ‘Annie Hall’ shushed Alvy Singer up in his attempts to rationalize their break-up, Alyssa Jones opens Holden up to a whole new world, quite like how he accredits her back in that car which I never left. Both films have their share of ‘male-endings’. Annie Hall breaks up with the man she left Singer for. Alyssa Jones turns tearful in a half-hearted attempt at denial. We witness an exciting rebirth of the sensitized conversationalist in form of Kevin Smith, a man who has the guts to put the blame on man than woman, and comes on top with his decision to stomach it than shy away.
In a time where comedies are purely physical with over-emphasized sexual tones, we have a film that talks its way through and stays quiet when it has to. It’s funny, it’s incredibly romantic; it’s crazy-sexy in its own off-hand way, and it’s got a lot of heart. What more can one ask for?