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    Eleanor Catton (adapting Jane Austen)

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Comments

Stephane Guero

Hi Billy, May I suggest an excellent French rom-com: Love at second sight. Best wishes, Stephane

mernitman

Hi Stephane! Thanks for the suggestion. I'll look for it. Best-o,
B.

Andrea

And a very Happy 2020 to you, Billy! :) On Little Women - did you hear Greta Gerwig's interview on the Scriptnotes podcast? She said something in it which was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me: when talking about starting the movie with scenes from the later timeline rather than the earlier one, she said it was a sort of 'rule' of romance in movies that "The person you see them with first is the person you believe they should be with". And thus we see Amy with Laurie and Jo with the dashing French professor :). GG said that traditionally (eg as happens in LW the novel) the introduction of a second man/suitor later can actually just make him feel like an annoyance rather than the one we feel the heroine should be with. I've never heard this observation made before - about the 'right guy' being the first one we see with our heroine - and I now want to revisit many romcoms to see if this 'rule' does indeed apply! What do you think? And is it a good one for writers to consider when crafting a romcom? Many thanks!

mernitman

Hi Andrea,
That's fascinating. I've heard Gerwig on other venues (e.g. NPR's Fresh Air) and she's always smart and funny about all such matters, but honestly, I'm not sure this principle applies as a general one. In many a rom-com, for example, we meet the heroine or hero with a "Bellamy" - a Wrong Guy - first, so that the arrival of Mr. Right is a clear and significant contrast. In some cases, the "prefer her with the first guy we saw - even though he's not who'll she'll end up with" idea creates intentional complexity (Broadcast News is a good example of that), but... I'd say Gerwig's "First One" theory only applies to some rom-coms. So I guess I wouldn't advocate it as a Thing One Should Necessarily Do... while on the other hand, it's a cool strategy to use if you want to create triangle-like tensions that can misdirect or play with the audience's expectations (e.g. if you WANT the audience to assume your heroine should be with Guy#1, and initially resist Guy#2, even if Guy #2 is ultimately her proper match). And etc. Thanks for the thought-provoking comment!

Andrea

Thanks for the thoughtful answer! Really great to get your insight, as always.

Andrea

PS Now I think about it further, perhaps GG is (even unwittingly) subverting things/playing with us, as you suggest - because it would be very easy, I think, for the audience to believe that Laurie and Jo *should* be together, no? Given that he loved her before Amy, that she and he have such a wonderful chemistry and understanding since they were young. ie all the 'usual' pointers to them being made for each other are there. And yet by actually *showing* Jo first with Friedrich (the French professor - although now I remember his name is Friedrich, maybe he's not supposed to be French after all?!) she's subliminally planted the seed in our brain that it is in fact he who is right for Jo... (which I guess takes us back to her original idea/intent!).

mernitman

Ah! I agree. She did the switcheroo that would have the most effective subliminal effect. Very cool... ;->

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