It seems likely that many critics will pan Something Borrowed, however there are those for whom this tale of missed opportunities and regret will ring true. The wonderful lead performance of Ginnifer Goodwin should win the film many fans, particularly among those who loved the book on which the screenplay is based.
When Rachel (Goodwin) turns up to her surprise 30th birthday party she is congratulated on her life and career by her lifelong best friend Darcy (Kate Hudson), a selfish and obnoxious woman who has somehow managed to ensnare Rachel’s college crush Dex (Colin Egglesfield).
The elephant in the room, of course, is that these people are all deeply flawed, and not in the good way that marks the best screen dramas, but in the bad way that might make some of their audience want to bang their heads together and tell them all to just grow up and get some self esteem. One suspects the major criticism of the film will be that Rachel takes so long to stand up for herself and her needs, that Dex is manipulative and indecisive, and that Darcy is just plain annoying. All of these complaints are valid, and it seems unlikely that Rachel will become the next-gen poster-girl for women’s self-determination.
The problem with those criticisms, however, is that they will fail to acknowledge that the film does give voice to the concern about Rachel and her passivity through the character of Ethan (John Krasinski), and that when Rachel does finally make her choice and take a positive step toward getting what she wants, the moment is clearly intended as the emotional high point of the film. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the difficulty the characters face in choosing between their obligations and desires, and who hasn’t taken longer than they might have liked to make a hard decision they knew was right for them?
Given these issues, the film’s success can be due only to the performance of Goodwin as Rachel. She is charming and endearing, and completely frustrating, and yet she manages to convince her audience to stay in her corner and cheer her on. Krasinski is excellent as the thwarted Ethan, but the same cannot be said for the other two lead characters: Darcy is written to be so awful that one simply cannot believe Rachel would have stayed friends with her or that Dex – or anyone with half a brain – would be silly enough to marry her. It does seem a shame that Darcy has been written to be so apalling, as the conflict facing Rachel would be so much more engaging were the audience not forced to despise Darcy for her behaviour and particularly her actions later in the film. Dex, meanwhile, suffers from a similar crisis of perceived duty vs. yearning for Rachel, and yet doesn’t overcome those limitations to remain appealing to the audience: for much of the film he is the villain.
There are real problems with the characters in Something Borrowed, and yet somehow Luke Greenfield’s film remains enjoyable despite it all. Goodwin and Krasinski show enough to suggest they might have found a new audience in the romantic drama genre.