If “Hot Mess” Was a Film

Luke Greenfield’s Something Borrowed (2011) 

By Merchys Diaz

I used to be a real sucker for romantic comedies. I’m not kidding—in my early twenties, romcoms could do no wrong by me. Films such as Midnight in Paris, Silver Linings Playbook, The Spectacular Now, and The Notebook were my favorites as I navigated the rollercoaster that was my dating life at the time. However, for over a decade now, it seems like many of the romcoms being released are mostly derived from previous ones and the genre has been running out of steam. Not to mention that romantic comedies’ target audience are women but they’re often told from a male point of view. Nevertheless, the main characteristic of a romcom is that there has to be a problem keeping two people apart. 

 I’ve realized that part of the problem with today’s romantic films is that it’s getting harder to generate obstacles for the couple to overcome in today’s world. Decades ago, it was so much easier—we had parental disapproval, differences in social class, distance, and promises that were hard to keep. Romcoms that continue to push these kinds of issues in the present day are falling flat of interest and credibility.  

Now that I’m in my thirties, I’ve looked back on many of the films that I used to love. Films that I believed realistically portrayed people’s intimate relationships, but later realized they had very little originality and an abundance of terrible advice. One of those films was Something Borrowed which premiered in theatres in 2011. I recently re-watched the movie on Netflix; however, I remember watching this film in the AMC Braintree movie theatre and feeding into the idea that somehow, the couple needed to figure out a way to be together. A happy ending was absolutely necessary. Boy, were my expectations wrong in so many ways.  

Something Borrowed tells the story of a love triangle between two best friends, Darcy (played by Kate Hudson) and Rachel (played by Ginnifer Goodwin), and Darcy’s fiancé Dex (played by Colin Egglesfield). Darcy, with her overpowering and entitled manner, has stolen away Rachel’s crush and law-school classmate Dex, leaving Rachel to bury her feelings for Dex as the years go by. Now that some time has passed, we see the childish aspects of Darcy and Rachel’s relationship. Darcy loves being the center of attention, and Rachel is the simple lawyer-best friend who is always there when Darcy needs her. 

Eleven years ago, I thought the relationship dynamics between Darcy and Rachel were normal because we have two women who have different personalities but have stayed close throughout their whole lives. Now, the extent to which Darcy feels she has to compete with Rachel’s intellect by being the “outgoing and sexy” friend, and how Rachel insists on being Darcy’s doormat don’t sit right with me. It shouldn’t sit right with anyone watching this film.  

In one of the scenes taking place on the night of Rachel’s birthday party, Darcy can’t help herself and makes the occasion about her. While making a toast, she tells the crowd “Happy 30th—so happy it’s not me yet!”. She makes this toast while showing a slideshow with pictures of their childhood; proceeding to show a picture of her and her fiancé Dex. This prompts their other best friend Ethan (played by John Krasinski) to ask Rachel “who are we celebrating again?” Darcy’s need for attention and Rachel’s inability to stand up for herself is cringy to watch at my thirty-one years of age. Although many of us are taught to love and support our loved ones and friends—regardless of their flaws, this is the kind of friendship no one should ever settle for. 

Then we have Dex, Darcy’s fiancé, and the love of Rachel’s life. From the beginning of the film, we see how incompatible Darcy and Dex are. Darcy is too unpredictable for the blandness of Dex’s personality. Just when Darcy and Dex’s wedding is around the corner, Dex and Rachel end up sleeping together after Rachel’s birthday party, rekindling the feelings they had for each other during law school but never acted on. Dex’s character behaved cowardly and lacked conviction throughout most of the movie. He doesn’t dare to tell Rachel how he feels during their time in law school but decides to give in to his desire days before his wedding.  When we think he’s finally putting on his big boy pants when he calls off the wedding, he disappoints us when he fails to tell Darcy that he’s always loved Rachel.  

Yet, Dex and Rachel are also incompatible because even after the years have passed, they can’t seem to have an honest grow-up conversation with each other. Yes, relationships are complicated, but how do you fall in love with someone you’ve spent so much time getting to know, but then date and propose to their best friend? Way more complicated than it needs to be if you ask me. 

As much as we may want to like the characters, they fall short of any character at all and continue to make terrible decisions throughout the film. Darcy and Rachel, the bride and bridesmaid who are supposed to be best friends, are dragging along this one-sided relationship for most of their lives. Not to mention that I simply don’t understand how, given that they’re childhood friends, Darcy had no clue that Rachel was still in love with Dax. What’s more, knowing Darcy had poor grades, Rachel believed she was accepted into Notre Dame but turned it down because Rachel wasn’t accepted. These are not things we can simply hide from someone we consider our best friend. What’s really strange about the film is how deep down, the main characters dislike or manipulate each other in order to hold on to this perfect idea of what relationships should be.  

Rachel eventually works up a bit of courage to go against what Darcy wants when she chooses to get away from it all and fly to London days before the wedding. However, when she returns she has no plans of going after what she wants and voicing her issues with Darcy. Darcy never really got the wake-up call that would make her realize the world doesn’t revolve around her. Even when she finds out about Dex and Rachel’s affair, Rachel allows her to believe it was out of jealousy towards Darcy and the friendship ends on Darcy’s terms.  

The film also suggests that there are only two types of women in this world: the promiscuous girl and the good girl.  Furthermore, it seems it doesn’t understand the message it’s delivering; it screams it’s okay to keep around your best friend that treats your poorly because you have way too much history together and have a favorite dance routine. I’ve concluded that I strongly dislike these characters because there is no personal growth in the end: Neither Dex nor Rachel made any attempt to try and work out their predicament until Darcy finds out about the affair. Darcy continues to live in her narcissistic bubble. Just when you think one of the main characters is about to do something sensible or courageous, they refuse to come to terms with reality. You can’t help but think that no one deserves to be happy in this story because they didn’t want it for themselves.  





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