Comedy of (not quite) remarriage in modern rom coms (Tony Heron blog post 4)

The presentation of the comedy of remarriage by Stanley Carvell seems foreign to our modern audiences. We have become acutely accustomed to the orthodox forms of romantic comedy that can be seen as New and Old Comedy. New Comedy being a man must overcome the will of another older man and Old Comedy being that a heroine might hold the key to a cathartic romantic solution but often “may be disguised as a boy, and who may undergo something like death and resurrection”. The comedy of remarriage introduces the inclusion of a woman protagonist as being married and the couple in a struggle to get back together rather than fall in love for the first time.

I believe n use of this structure in a contemporary setting was the film “Celeste & Jesse Forever”. Although the film itself was perhaps not as polished you may like, the themes of it were pertinent to the writings of Carvell. This is because we have two characters who happily fell in love, got married, ultimately got divorced but still live together and remain best friends. The main protagonist, Celeste slowly begins to want to bring the marriage into repair whilst her ex-husband wants to move on. This is an interesting example in this discourse because although it is a comedy at it’s heart it does not have a cathartic resolution to it, the couple don’t get back together which is a sour ending to the film. I wonder how much of this ending is because the film wanted to resist the films that Carvell talked about or how much of it was trying to place the a romantic comedy in a world of realism for realism’s sake? I believe there is a tendency in modern romantic films to do a combination of the two, to attempt to show a new way of doing romantic comedy by sacrificing the ending the audience desires in place for a ‘real’ ending which is not always kind to those we come to empathise with.

One comment

  1. I think this is definitely the case with rom coms today and the first film that your blog post reminded me of is 500 days of Summer (Marc Webb, 2009) which is essentially a comedy of remarriage as described by Cavell that has a non-cathartic ending just as “Celeste and Jesse Forever” but with a reversal of gender roles.

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