Saturday, January 16, 2010

Supporting Actress Blogathon: Ginnifer Goodwin in He's Just Not That Into You

I've wanted to talk about He's Just Not That Into You ever since catching it on DVD (its cinema release was Valentines Day) and so Stinkylulu's annual Supporting Actress Blogathon emerges as the perfect platform to discuss my favourite part about it, the charming Ginnifer Goodwin. If you're hung up on category placement, and view the film as led by narrator and probable screen-time queen Ginnifer, then tough luck. I'm usually quick to accept prominent players as "leading" roles but, as with Inglourious Basterds, He's Just Not That Into You is an obvious ensemble piece, featuring a "Who's Who?" of Hollywood's gossip magazine elite, and thus I class every cast member as supporting the other.

The film's titular lament is a brazen statement, and the entire film seems geared towards warning women of not being too obvious about their need for attention and romance, even as its mere existence as a marketable romantic comedy appears to undermine what its saying, and as it inevitably confirms to women that a happy ending does exist.

Ginnifer Goodwin's Gigi is a hopeless romantic, painfully unsure of how to handle potential love interests, way too rapturous at the idea of having one in the first place, pre-occupied with the stages of development in a relationship and already desperate for the white picket fence and two-point-four children. In meeting Alex (Justin Long) she finds an inside source of information on men and how to tell whether they really like you or not, gladly absorbing his information on body language and flirting, eager to learn and become better at the dating game. Goodwin's early pedanticism is very endearing, and as a representation of the over-thought "What if the one gets away?" approach to romance she is successfully hapless, without coming across as an airhead bimbo, or anything less than remarkably intelligent.

Gigi is familiar with protocol, constantly flirting even in her and Alex's first platonic exchanges, maintaining eye contact and nodding her head slightly to show she's taking in his information, digesting it, and doesn't even think to let him go as a romantic option until her bungled attempt at a seduction ends in heavy admonishment. Goodwin navigates the negative connotations of her character's desire for testosterone, and is refreshingly aware of Gigi's emotional openness and the problems that it poses, promoting it as positive and worthwhile even though it leaves her exposed to hurt. She is responsible for the film's ultimate reverence of romance, indulgent of dating and how it's undeniably fun, even though 95% of it ends in the disappointment of not meeting the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.

In the final scene, she (as with the audience) can see why Alex is standing at her door long before he declares that he "can't stop thinking about her", and yet she almost can't believe it when he tells her. Gigi is so ingrained in the process of hunting down men that she can barely acknowledge obtaining one so easily, and with little-to-no effort, that her reaction registers as uncertain, even fearful. Goodwin's face bursts into life with triumph, but one reckons that again, like the audience, Gigi learns virtually nothing out of her experience, and that she will likely work just as hard and make the same sweet mistakes that she always did as she embarks on her first relationship with a guy just as much into her as she is to him.


RC said...

I can't too excited about this film, but I agree Goodwin was for the other Gennifer/Jennifer -- Jennifer Connolley had one of the least flatering performance of hers I have ever seen.

Ryan T. said...

Ginnifer was definitely the only redeeming part of the movie for me. I could barely stand to watch the rest, but her scenes were fantastic. Great write up!