He is a pretty boy (like Hugh Grant or Matthew McConaughey); she has a perky and bubbly personality (like Sandra Bullock or Julia Roberts). They meet. Of course, it is love at first sight, but quicker than a high school relationship, the couple have melodramatic quarrels and go their own ways.
However, in the end the woman is swept off her feet once again and the lovers kiss in the beauty of the sunset (screen fades to black) as the entire theatre drowns in teary-eyed whimpering.
Nearly every romantic comedy follows this formula rigidly. But Vancouverite Jason James’ directorial debut, That Burning Feeling, intends to challenge the archetypes of the characters in these movies, attempting to push them to further emotional depths — the protagonist in That Burning Feeling, Adam Murphy, tries to turn his life around after he has been diagnosed with gonorrhea. His new-life resolution is to find all his recent one-night stands and hopefully apologize and begin to treat them right — not as a business transaction but this time as human beings.
“I kind of have a love-hate relationship with romantic comedies,” James told the Tri-Cities NOW during a phone interview. “They have always been these big dumb movies that have the same structure … I wanted to challenge that.”
Can you make a romantic comedy about the least romantic thing possible and still challenge the genre and still fit firmly inside of it? This is James’ goal.
From the title to the premise, That Burning Feeling hints at being a sex romp but not once does the film part from reverence. Instead, James takes the core from these movies and sidesteps your expectations by attempting to deliver a “beautiful, sweet, heartfelt, emotional love story.”
“It’s a film about this guy who only knows how to physically connect with women,” James explained. Then when the sex is taken away Adam must learn how to emotionally connect. This is all a part of Adam’s journey to finding his “authentic self.”
You can check out That Burning Feeling on Friday, Oct. 11 at 3:30 p.m. at the Rio Theatre as part of the Vancouver International Film Festival.
Joshua Cabrita lives in Port Coquitlam.
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