After all of the cocaine has been snorted and dance parties have subsided, at the end of Bachelorette, I wasn't sure whether I really loved every character, or really, really hated every character.
I believe, in some cases (and especially here), that's a good thing. There's a pleasure in deciding whether a character's moral ambiguity is something you can identify with. It's therapeutic. It allows for self-discovery. This most recently happened to me with Michelle Williams' character in the year's best film, Take This Waltz.. I wanted to wring her neck and also spoon her in my bed at the same time.
I wanted to do the same thing to the women in Bachelorette.
Adapted from writer/director Lesyle Headland's play of the same name, Bachelorette follows a night of three bridesmaids running around Manhattan before their "friend" Pigface's (Rebel Wilson) wedding. They have accidentally ripped and bled on the bride's dress, are totally wasted and are all simultaneously trying to get all of life's intricate shit together.
The three leads here are all self-absorbed, egomaniacal, selfish, emotionally dead b-words. They even affectionately called themselves the "B-Faces" in high school. Now that they're in their thirties, although they used to be the shit, they are the shit no more. Their lives are a mess and the loser they used to call Pigface has become what they all want; a decent human. More importantly, a decent human who is engaged.
Kirsten Dunst (coming off a career best performance in Melancholia, which should have won her an Oscar and every single award ever made), is Regan, the symbolic leader. She has a nice job and med school boyfriend, so she's automatically the most responsible. Jockeying for position is Gena (Lizzy Caplan), a Los Angeles transient who hates Jack Johnson, is still crushing on her ex-boyfriend (Adam Scott, in a little Party Down reunion) and keeps a bottle full of coke around at all times. Katie (Isla Fisher) is a budding fashionista who is like your one friend who is so darned sweet and innocent, but put a few drinks in her and she's like mid-nineties Robert Downey, Jr.
Let's address these unavoidable comparisons. This is not Bridesmaids; it doesn't go for laughs motivated by poop. This is not The Hangover just because it's women engaging in debauchery against the backdrop of a wedding. If I had to compare it to anything, it'd be an early film by Neil LaBute, but with more estrogen and iPhones. Although there's long stretches for silliness -- including Caplan graphically describing her blow job skills -- Bachelorette deals with heavy shit, man. There's drug use, drug abuse and overdoses. There's bathroom sink sex. Dunst's character constantly recites an anecdote about helping "cancer kids," as if she's validating that's she's actually a good person.
Conflicts arise solely from this triad being totally clueless while trying to appear composed. Dunst, Caplan and Fisher are all uniquely wonderful in their varying levels of insanity. All of their problems are a result of them being shitty people. I mean, they are straight-up shitty. Although it's a bit hyperbolic at times, this is why I haven't stopped thinking about this movie. When do you get to see shitty women doing shitty things in movies without the men in their lives attributing it to them being unfaithful or on their period?
There's a lull during the second act where each woman goes off with a different man (James Marsden alert!), and, maybe it's them coming down from the coke, but things drift a tad bit into melodrama. But, it's during these scenes that the bachelorettes at least make an attempt to evolve past what they thought they would turn out to be after high school. I think based on the trailers and marketing campaign and because it's produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, people might have their expectations challenged. However, Headland has crafted a memorable little movie that Nicole Holofcener might have made if she came of age in the aughts.
This is the antithesis to the much-discussed HBO show Girls. While those girls have liberal arts degrees and are Bohemian and read Pitchfork and Jezebel, the women in Bachelorette probably don't even know what any of that means and couldn't care less.
They're too consumed with themselves. And I like that. Or hate that. I don't know.
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