Who would dare write a rom-com in today’s climate?

Indeed, many of the great rom-coms that I grew up with would never get made today. The “problematic” nature of Pretty Woman is pretty obvious, from its glamourisation of prostitution to the redemption of a kerb-crawling git (played by Richard Gere). Richard Curtis, who single-handedly propped up the British film industry in the 1990s with his socially exclusive, winsome rom-coms, would not withstand the moral scrutiny of today’s thought police. 

In Four Weddings and a Funeral, Andie MacDowell’s rich American Carrie gamely proceeds to tell her would-be suitor (Hugh Grant’s Charles) the number of men she has slept with. At the time, this sexual frankness jarred with the film’s essential tweeness, but what probably passed as a symbol of growing female empowerment back then, now seems intrusive, with a sort of stigmatising air that leaves MacDowell’s character seeming horribly compromised.

Then there is Love Actually, a collection of disparate stories, which for all their eccentric charm could be construed as a bit, well, stalkery. There is Hugh Grant’s PM, knocking on every door on “the wrong side of Wandsworth” to find his tea lady (Martine McCutcheon); and Colin Firth turning up uninvited to the restaurant where his Portuguese housekeeper works. Most notoriously, there is Andrew Lincoln’s Mark whose affection for Keira Knightley’s Juliet is unrequited, and edits her wedding video to his best friend so that she is IN EVERY CLOSE UP. Is this creepy, or simply the sort of madness that Shakespeare spoke of (“My love is as a fever, longing still.”)? 

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