Actually no! I’d be lying if I said that. There’s lots of sex in Chasing Amy, the second effort in the sophomoric series of features directed by smack-talk Baron and motor-mouth unparalleled – Kevin Smith. I haven’t yet had the privilege of watching his first flick Clerks, which supposedly signaled the arrival of a major new talent. But having sat through Chasing Amy, with much glee for a majority of its running time of 90 minutes, I must say there’s something strangely provocative and alluring about Kevin’s filthy tirade of a film.
A one line description of the film’s plot could be two best friends, Holden (Ben Affleck) and Banky (Jason Lee), being driven apart by Holden’s infatuation with a charming lesbian named Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams). Those who rent out the DVD and expect to be titillated are bound to be disappointed. The aforementioned reference to sex is purely concerning the dialogues of the film, which is soaked in the nectar of anatomical realism.
The characters in this film talk about sex with a sense of liberation that would ideally be reserved for activities bordering on the likes of dropping your child to school or hopping over to the supermarket to replenish your stock of veggies (no pun intended there, don’t look for one, just because I mentioned it). F-words are thrown around with such merciless frequency you’d find it hard to walk away unmarred. We’re talking every frickin sentence.
The two male protagonists Holden and Banky are comic book artists, the former a romantic, level-headed bloke and the latter, a highly-wired energizer bunny with a short fuse. Alyssa too happens to illustrate comic books for a living. The duo runs into her one day at a comic con and Holden feels like sparks have flown. He is instantly smitten by the street smart Alyssa and is delighted when a common friend (a black and gay comic book artist moonlighting as a bartender) invites Holden to a party being attended by Alyssa.
All roads seem to be leading to romance as Holden and Alyssa hit the right notes in their symphony of seduction. That is until Holden’s dreams of a mutually beneficial heterosexual relationship with Alyssa are shattered – all thanks to a particularly funny scene involving Alyssa playing tongue tonsils with her Butch of a girlfriend.
It’s one of those scenes that might have prompted Affleck to reflect on the human condition and say, ‘gone baby, gone’ (which happens to be a brilliant film directed by him, later on in his career). Speaking of which, here’s where I need to draw your attention to Kevin Smith’s homage to Tarantino. A case in point happens to be the numerous pop cultural references he draws in this film.
Like the one where the gay comic artist claims Archie Andrews to be gay (yes, the same blond-haired, all-American boy-next-door). And that Archie’s secret lover happens to be Jughead Jones. His justification is that Archie could never make up his mind – with respect to Betty or Veronica. The character goes so far as to say that Principal Weatherbee had a thing going on with Archie as well.
It might seem like coincidence, but we did have characters in Reservoir Dogs badmouth Madonna with their take on what they thought she meant when she sang Like a Virgin. But those are just superficial concerns. What allows the film to stand up and hold its ground is across the board fine performances. Joey Lauren Adams is a revelation and it's delight to watch her oscillating between characters.
She starts off as a carefree Bohemian girl who at first, helps Holden dispel his doubts concerning how lesbians ‘do it’ and a million other girl-on-girl queries. But she soon progresses to falls in love with him while falling out with her best friends who happen to be lesbians. Holden’s best friend Banky, is in no way, helping the situation as he sets off on a quest to dig up every ounce of dirt that he can lay his hands on, with respect to Alyssa’s colorful history.
And that’s because of a sense of misplaced responsibility that Banky feels for Holden. And the fact that Banky is homophobic. This brings us to Alyssa, who by now has realised that her past has no intentions of abandoning its perpetual pursuit of her. As skeletons tumble out of the closet, Holden’s suspicion gets the better of him and he begins questioning the nature of his relationship with Alyssa and her escapades. She, of course, is one stop short of becoming a thoroughly embittered lover.
Two scenes in this film deserve special mention. One of them involves Holden’s proposal to Alyssa in his SUV on a rainy night. In the hands of a lesser actor, the lines would have come across as cheesy, corny and sandwiched between two thick loaves of cliché. But, Ben just nails it.
The second scene involves Alyssa’s breakdown, which is a deeply affecting sequence, not just for the viewers, but even for Alyssa. She embarks on a high-pitched, tearful monologue that goes on for an uncomfortably long time. But she completely invests herself in her tragic exposition of regrets and the audience feels richer for having sat through the experience. This is the official money shot of the film, one that’s worth the price of admission all by itself.
Go on, spoil yourself naughty… you’re gonna come back and thank me for initiating you into the cult of Kevin Smith… speaking of which, the word ‘cult’ has a nice ring to it. I know… it’s sick. And why wouldn’t it be? Kevin Smith would go on to make the randy romp Zack and Mirri make a Porno and we’d still be laughing our asses off.
This post is an entry to the Reel-Life Bloggers contest organized by wogma.com and reviewgang.com