*Slight spoilers ahead for “Pretty Woman”*
Have you ever seen a film that was just technically bad in many aspects, but something about it made you love it anyway? If you have seen a movie like “Pretty Woman” and hold the majority of opinion, then you probably consider it a great movie. For those who need a reminder, it is about a prostitute (Julia Roberts) who falls in love with a rich billionaire (Richard Gere). I am sorry to say that I do not hold the majority of opinion on this. Having seen it recently, the movie is not well-made. This is not just the literary snob coming out in me. It is not that this movie is bad because the issues are lighter and the theme is about finding “true love”, both of which are regularly scoffed at by critics. Rather, plot points and background information on the characters feel false. The film is a lie and I just cannot accept lies as something to feel comfortable with. Yes, Julia Roberts give a very Julia-Roberts-romance-movie performance in which she is sweet, charming, and able to hurdle over any character flaws with her bright, white smile. This personality works great in films when she is supposed to be this character, but it really does not work well for a role as a prostitute.
Now, yes, prostitutes in films should never conform to any one attitude or behavior. However, Robert’s character of the prostitute seems so shiny and bubbly that it feels hard to believe that she has ever been through hard times she talks about. I understand that sometimes those who go through the greatest of struggles end up with the greatest of spirits. However, there is usually some hardening of the soul. However positive that person may be, there is a purpose to their positivity and an appreciation of life that is rarely seen. Roberts has neither of these characteristics. In fact, her story told to Richard Gere is a contradiction. She informs him that prostitution was just a way to get money, kind of like a 9-5 gig working at retail. Then Roberts says that she is willing to do anything with any guy and has done almost everything with her clients, which suggests a wide range of experience. She then tells him that being told that she is nothing by so many people has degraded her. Yet this is barely seen in her demeanor. Even at her supposedly most vulnerable, she says this only with a sad smile, like remembering an unpleasant dream. I did not except a full melodramatic moment complete with tears and wailing screams, but I was hoping for more of a deeper moment. Or maybe the opposite would have been nice to see, with Roberts having had some supreme confidence that never got out of her system. However, with Roberts trying to play both the vulnerable girl and the confident girl, she gets caught in inconsistency. Which of her characters is her true self? It seems impossible to tell.
Now, I have never been a prostitute, but this film did make me wonder: if I was going through the emotionally draining process of empty sex with clients night after night and using my body as my only resource, would I really be singing happy tunes in a bubble bath the next day?
Of course, I am probably just hard-hearted. Many people love this film and I can see why. Besides the charm of Roberts, the chemistry between Roberts and Gere feels closer to the truth than anything else in the film. This may have been a large selling point in the picture. (It is interesting what large crowds of viewers and will not accept. Something like unrealistic storylines or corny dialogue can be overlooked with the excuse that it is “just a movie”, but a lack of chemistry between two romantic leads kills a movie to a point where it cannot be forgiven). This movie is essentially a fun, slumber-party movie. If people need that in their lives, good for them.
Reader, what do you think? Are you drawn to movies that might be considered badly made, but you like them anyway? Why or why not? Is there any supposed harm in these movies?