[Book Review] Romantic Comedies, by Pamela Jaye Smith - Raindance

Aren’t romantic comedies cute? People fall in love, fall out love, meet-cutes happen, broken hearts mend, lovers cheat, and partners forgive… This is the genre where things go wrong in all the right ways. This is the magical place where the mysterious powers of love work their magic. Wouldn’t it be great if real life happened like that?

Well, there’s an argument to say that romantic comedies are far more relevant to life, and for deeper than they’re usually given credit for. In fact, this argument is at the heart of the book ‘Romantic Comedies: These Films Can Save Your Love Life’. While this particular genre always seems too good to be true, the author Pamela Jaye Smith starts from the assumption that, beyond the shiny coating of the genre, the truths of the situations that make up the genre are much more far-reaching than one could think.

Romantic Comedies as Self-Help

Research has shown that couples who watch romantic comedies together prompts them to discuss the situations and feelings involved in those films, in such a way that these films can actually be a mirror that helps couples work through difficult situations. From that discovery, Smith has devised this nifty guide to what romantic comedies can save your love life.

From a first love, and the doubts that plague lovers (‘Am I good enough to be loved?), to commitment issues and missed opportunities, this book covers a wide range of situations which will be more or less familiar to people whose heart has soared, sunk, been shattered and healed. If you’d like to address a situation in your relationship, or you find yourself thinking about a particular issue you find yourself embroiled in, and could use both the distraction and the catharsis that romantic comedies can provide, look no further than this book.

A reminder of the merits of the genre

With this book, Pamela Jaye Smith showcases great insight. Not just in the breadth of the situations, and the analyses that she provides for each one of them, and remarking on the takeaways for each film, but also quite simply by giving due credit to a genre that is often far too easily dismissed. Looking at this book, you will see titles leap out at you. Recent entries include (500 Days of Summer), Hitch, Mamma Mia, Something’s Gotta Give, or The Birdcage. Older entries go as far back as classics such as Sabrina, The Apartment, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, or the 1934 film It Happened One Night.

This book sits at the crossroads between self-help book and romantic comedies anthology. Looking at it through the lens of the former category, it is furiously original and perfectly delightful. Through the lens of the latter category, you may find that Patricia Jaye Smith’s great accomplishment with this book could just be that it gives its dues to a genre that is often considered too easy, too cheesy… it serves as a reminder that romantic comedies are one of the trickiest genre, or even blend of genres, and that the successful ones are beautiful balancing acts, which merit a place in the pantheon of cinema.

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About 

Baptiste is a writer hailing from the part of France where it is always sunny. After a stint in politics and earning his Master's Degree in Management, he was a marketing intern for the 23rd Raindance Film Festival in 2015, then joined the team permanently in 2016 as the Registrar of the MA in Filmmaking. He is passionate about diversity in film, which he researches and writes about extensively. He is the producer of the hit webseries "Netflix & Kill" and the multi-award-winning short film "Alder", as well as a writer for stage and screen. His short film "U Up?" is currently in pre-production.