I’ve been binging romantic comedies all summer, and while I’ve been enjoying them more now than ever, I find myself seeing the same female leads. I remember watching The Spectacular Now and completely identifying with Shailene Woodley’s character. That was back in 2015 when I watched that movie. She played the shy Amy who slowly came out of her shell through the eyes of her love interest, which reminds me a lot of Lara Jean from To All the Boys I’ve Loved. And while I adore these female leads, I find myself not relating to them anymore, mostly because I’ve grown out of that phase of not truly knowing myself yet. Now bring in this little gem of a movie starring a black female who knows she’s dope but for whatever reason doesn’t have her life figured out quite yet. Jessica Williams shines as she plays a total bad ass whose insecurities are shown through actions and body language rather than talking about it. Not only is this the perfect display of showing rather than telling, but it really does emulate what twenty somethings are going through.
Everyone is all about talking about what they’re passionate about, but at the same time, everyone is struggling to pursue that same passion. James works at a nonprofit and wants to pursue play writing, but the movie itself is more or less about her trying to get over a breakup. She meets Boon played by Chris O Dowd who is totally opposite from her but also getting over a breakup so they begin a weird relationship, including a pact to follow each other’s ex. It’s a story we’re all familiar with, but it’s a more modern take. Chris O Dowd brings the same charm he had in Bridesmaids and it really works because he feels much more like a real human being instead of a Prince Charming. He makes mistakes and doesn’t make some sort of grand gesture for them. Instead, the two leads talk through their shit like normal adults would, and it’s refreshing to watch. In addition to the romantic elements, there’s a great side storyline that shows James interacting with one of her students. It’s simple but a great display of why Jessica James pushes some of her students so much to pursue their dreams.
Overall, I really loved how realistic this movie felt, and I love seeing more interracial couples come to screen lately. Growing up, a lot of my friends assumed I liked people with skin like mine, and it really upset me when I was younger but I couldn’t quite pinpoint why so I kept my mouth shut. I remember my friends in 5th grade asking me if I liked the only other colored person in my class and I couldn’t express back then why it was so wrong of them to say that. However, when I saw the backlash with To All the Boys I’ve Loved with some people saying they should of casted an Asian male lead to play Lana Condor’s love interest, I resonated so much with the actress’s response.
“You are being racist unknowingly and continuing to put us in a box that we don’t need to be in. It’s really unfair. People should be able to love who they want to love. It’s offensive to me — you’re continuing to promote tribalism. So I can’t be with who I want to be with? These are probably the same people who have an issue with the LGBT community. It’s the same thing — you telling me who I can love is unfair,” Condor said.
Anyway, I went off on a bit of a tangent, but my point is that I love that we’re seeing more diversity because growing up all the love stories seemed to happen to people that didn’t look anything like me, so I hope young women and men are inspired in a way that I wasn’t able to be when I was growing up.