The past week has been a whirlwind, I recently turned a year older, learned that I’d be spending the next twelve weeks (at least) in isolation - and friends are return home to their home country, perhaps forever…
Much change is afoot and if, like me, you find yourself in need a little escapism, take comfort in the multi award-winning comedy As Good As It Gets by James L. Brooks. If that name seems familiar, it might be because you’ve read it before; his name and production company (Gracie films) has appeared in every episode of the Simpsons since it was first broadcast over thirty years ago.
As Good As It Gets is a well-crafted classic - the kind of comfortable watch that can only exist when a safe pair of hands is at the wheel. It’s drawn in the style of romantic comedies from decades before and its theatricality would probably be considered old fashioned by modern standards, but look past that because there’s gold to be found.
What sets the film apart, at least for me, is its exploration of an unconventional and nuanced love, where the romance is often left behind but the sentiment, even when platonic, can be found a-plenty in the smallest details, and the decisions of the film’s key players. Believe it or not, this is a romantic comedy, and manages to crack wise at subjects that might otherwise be considered much darker.
The dialogue is finely tuned and the casting is superb (Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt both give career-best performances and won Oscars for their efforts, supported by Greg Kinear and Cuba Gooding Jr.)
From the outsiders perspective, Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) is a monster, but Melvin sees it differently; A fiction writer living in New York, Melvin has honed a perfect life for himself by shutting everyone and everything else out - and descending into a series of obsessive-compulsive disorders. When events and his personality conspire to upset his equilibrium, Melvin inadvertently gets himself stuck in the boggy lives of those around him, and finds himself changed….
This is the film for today; a reminder that change is an inevitable part of life; though things work out differently to how we imagined, they usually work out in the end.
At the time of writing, this film is available to stream for £2.49 (£3.49 HD) from Amazon.
Running time: 140 minutes.