I must admit, of all the film genres in the world, romantic comedy is the one I struggle with the most. Love them or loathe them, it’s fair to say that rom coms are often critically denigrated regardless of how good or bad they are. Whilst they may not be up there with the Citizen Kanes of this world, they are beloved by millions of people around the world. In her first feature documentary Elizabeth Sankey investigates their lasting charm.
As a teenager, the Summer Camp singer became obsessed with the likes of When Harry Met Sally and My Best Friend’s Wedding. This overriding passion, bordering on obsession, coloured her opinion on relationships and love. Using a vast array of clips, she demonstrates that, in hindsight, the messages they were transmitting to both men and women were both dangerous and wrong. This is the premise of her essay film Romantic Comedy.
Whilst there have been many changes within society since Sankey’s teenage years, mainstream rom coms remain inherently white, middle-class and straight. There have been improvements but these movies largely remain misogynistic, unrealistic and unhealthy. Despite all this, she delivers a persuasive argument to illustrate why the genre is much loved by so many people. Even if these movies are not your bag, Romantic Comedy will win you over.
Romantic Comedy screens at Sheffield Doc/Fest on 7th and 10th June.