When I look at about my Fine Romance Friday posts, a pattern emerges: most of what I’ve recommended so far are older films, foreign films, or indies. What the heck has happened to the genre? Can Hollywood make a good romantic comedy anymore?
Jezebel had a nifty chart yesterday showing the decline of receipts for rom-coms compared to the meteoric rise in box office for super-hero movies. It’s sort of a random and not terribly enlightening comparison; critically, super-hero movies are experiencing a bit of a renaissance and rom-coms are in a rut, but that doesn’t mean the two are related.
But as someone who reads (and writes!) romance, it’s clear that there’s been stagnation in contemporary romance on film and I find that depressing. I think it’s related to a few trends: the focus on impossibly beautiful people, the forced quirkiness, the humiliation of the female protagonist, and the overall predictability.
Within, say, the best contemporary romance novels being written today, the characters are often more likable and more relatable than in the last five rom-coms I saw. Even keeping in mind that there will be a happily ever after, contemporary romance novels surprise me. I am rarely surprised by the mainstream romantic comedies of the past decade.
So, am I wrong? What am I missing? Or should I stick with the older films and those produced outside of the Hollywood machine?