A few years ago the romantic comedy was flat lining, suffering from a seemingly incurable case of the Katherine Heigls. The once proud genre—think “When Harry Met Sally”—had surrendered to predictability with witless stories and characters who took the bus straight from Central Casting.
The term rom com became an anti-selling point to audiences tired of the same old Barrymore Method© rom com design— meet cute, fall in love, then fall out of love before walking off into the sunset and… well, I’m not going to give away the ending but if you don’t know it already then either you don’t have a romantic bone in your body or you’ve never seen a Drew Barrymore (or Kristen Bell or Kate Hudson or Jennifer Aniston) movie.
Director Matt Sadowski skirts around this by calling his new movie “Pretend We’re Kissing,” a non com, but make no mistake, this is a rom com, but the kind of romantic comedy that won’t make you run from the theatre suffering from saccharine overload.
Dov Tiefenbach is Benny, a pensive twenty-something who pays the rent by covering downtown Toronto with band posters. His flatmate is a nudist (Zoë Kravitz) with a worldview somewhere between Shirley MacLaine and Gloria Steinem who has crashed there for a year while looking for work.
Despite living with a beautiful, often naked woman Benny is a lonely heart. Single, until he meets Jordan (Tommie-Amber Pirie) and is instantly smitten but too insecure to do anything about his feelings. Soon a courtship begins—this is a rom com after all—but it’s not all smooth sailing because this isn’t a Drew Barrymore rom com.
“Pretend We’re Kissing” is tribute to Toronto—the Toronto Islands and the Cameron House are almost characters in the film—and a funny, occasionally sweet, occasionally cringe-worthy look at ups and downs of millennial love. More importantly it breaks the mould as to what a romantic comedy can be.