Chasing Amy

Movie Review #906

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Nationwide release on April 4, 1997. Comedy/Drama/Romance. This film is rated R for strong graphic sex-related dialogue, language, sexuality and drug content. Runs 113 minutes. American production. Director: Kevin Smith. Written by: Kevin Smith. Cast: Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Dwight Ewell, Joey Lauren Adams, Carmen Lee, Jason Mewes, and Kevin Smith.

“CHASING AMY” IS “CLERKS.” PLUS CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT.

★★★½
By Alexander Diminiano

The concept that actions have consequences is missing here. Which is strange, because that usually comes naturally to a screenplay. As naturally as dialogue comes in “Chasing Amy”, the concept of actions having consequences is there neither unnaturally if at all. Just how does a professional comic book presentation turn into a racial outrage, and then a shooting, and then a casual conversation as if nothing of those two other things had actually happened? And when a comic book artist who is aggravated because someone has taunted him about his profession, how in pluperfect hell does that end in the cops hauling out the guy who’s taunting the comic book artist?

But actions may as well not be here to not have consequences in the first place. “Chasing Amy” isn’t about the action. It’s about the dialogue, and the dialogue is perfect. This is essentially “Clerks.” plus character development, as well as a prominent theme concerning the contemporary liberal turn of society. The film thoroughly serves the purpose of emphasizing women’s freedom to choose what they do and who they are. Alyssa is a likable woman whom Holden (Ben Affleck) meets at a comic book store and falls in love with. He and his best friend meet her at a bar later and discover that she’s a lesbian. Being as closed-minded as he is, Holden has trouble accepting this. Though it’s for the rest of the movie that their friendship is chronicled: a strong friendship, but somewhat plagued by Holden’s inability to understand homosexuality.

There’s a great deal of comedy here, but underneath that is a heartfelt drama. Halfway through the film, Holden confesses his love to Amy in an elaborate speech that couldn’t be more sincere. But Amy’s reaction grows clearer and clearer through the speech, and the scene grows tragic. I don’t doubt that it’s for this one scene, and numerous more serious, sincere conversations between Holden and Amy later in the movie, that “Chasing Amy” was inducted into the Criterion Collection. It’s a movie that offers laughs entirely separate from its drama. While such a distinction is not generally something I’m a fan of in movies, it works terrifically in the dramedy that is “Chasing Amy”.

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