“THE BROKEN HEARTS CLUB: A ROMANTIC COMEDY”–you “gotta” have friends


You Gotta Have Friends

Amos Lassen

Set on the palm treed coast of West Hollywood, “The Broken Hearts Cub” (Sony Pictures Classics) tries very hard to succeed and it almost does. First off, we meet Dennis, a photographer with a promising career. He is about to celebrate his twenty-eighth birthday and he is looking at his life and ruing it. He can’t decide if his friends are really his friends or not. Among the members of his gang are Benji a boyish looking young man who loves men with pumped up bodies, Howie—a grad student in psychology who thinks a lot and doesn’t act, Cole, the handsome young actor who knows how to manage to get everyone’s men, Patrick, a cynical jokester, and Taylor, a drama queen who is proud of his long term relationship. Rounding out the group is an older man, Jack, who gives advice and provides employment for the guys. Friendships are put to the test when Jack is suddenly struck down.

What director Greg Berlanti managed to do is nothing less than heroic. He, somehow, managed to show gay men to be just regular people living in a society which characterizes gay men by stereotypical notions. The are really no stereotypes in the movie that seems to have created a group of friends based upon what we, as gay people, think of as gay men—just regular guys. When the movie shines, it glows and when it is mediocre it is ruled by cliché. But more than anything, it is original. It shows gays as a group of men who fall in and out of love, love sports and do things like any other group of young men. Every once in a while, however, it does resort to the idea that life is not so easy for gays.

Acted by an ensemble cast in which everyone is good there is one standout performance. Timothy Oliphant as Dennis gives a wonderful performance (but then his role is the center of the film). Basically this is a director’s film. He made the movie he wanted to make and did it the way he wanted it done.

I enjoyed the way each character is conveyed differently as if we are actually meeting them. A plethora of messages is sent out from the screen and probably the reason it did not do well when released to the big screen is that people weren’t ready t see us as run of the mill everyday guys. A lot has changed since 2000 when the movie came out and were it to be released I have the feeling that it would be embraced. Next to “Queer as Folk” it5 is quite mild but again, seven years have paused and several bolder movies have come along. The movie itself, doesn’t really add anything new, aside from the depiction of gay men, but that is salvaged by the acting and quickness of the screenplay. The film gives gay men a definition and it has a universal theme—friends who are really friends will be there to let you know that you are OK—if you are.

There are great moments of humor and some wonderful usage of terms that the gay community uses and they are defined on screen so that the straight audience will understand our lingo. There are several touching and sensitive events in the film as well. As we watch the men connect and disconnect as they look for where they fit in the world, I had the feeling that I was looking at my own life. Several people have had problems with this movie but it could have been when they saw it. It is important because it shows that we live and love like everyone else. The fact that the main characters are gay is not what the movie is about. It is about friendship and how important it is. The fact the it is about a group of gay men is really not that important. Anyone could have been in this movie—at least anyone with a group of friends.

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