If It Amuses You, Then Do It: Green Card (1990)

Peter Weir is a versatile director, whether it be his seventies classic The Last Wave or the religious study that is The Truman Show.  His 1990 film, Green Card, of which he produced, wrote and directed, maintains all the honesty and intimacy prevalent in many of his films.  It is at times melodramatic, often sentimental and always cheesy.  This is permissible though because it is a romantic comedy and rarely strays away from the staple dialogue and imagery of the genre.  The only real divide between Green Card and other rom-com's is the element of foreignness, which for the most part factors very little into the films narrative.

Green Card begins with a story that has already unfolded.  Viewers are shown Bronte (Angie MacDowell) and Georges (Gerard Depardieu) meeting up for their wedding day.  It is assumed that the couple has been together for sometime, until both walk away from the courthouse shaking hands and thanking each other for help.  Bronte, a single woman, married Georges, a newly immigrated Frenchman, purely to obtain a plush apartment with a green house.  Georges likewise only married Bronte for a green card to stay in the United States.  All appears to be fine, until the Federal Immigration Committee plans an interview to verify the legitimacy of Bronte and Georges' marriage.  In an act of desperation the two meet up at Bronte's apartment and stumble through an interview, one that leaves the committee suspicious but grants them enough time to hash out a plan for making their love seem legitimate.  The first few days of their cohabitation seem doomed for failure, as Bronte finds Georges to be an "oaf," and he finds her to be frigid and far too conforming.  Through a series of mishaps, interactions with friends, and staged intimacy the two begin to grow closer together, finally realizing that they do indeed love each other.  The two head to their interview in love, hoping to assure their marriage and stay together in the United States.  Sadly, Georges misspeaks in his interview implying that he only knows Bronte's personal life through memorization leading to a touching departure scene between the lovers in which Georges leaves to France promising to write Bronte daily.

Again, excluding the foreign element of the film, this is a generic romantic comedy.  It pairs opposites together positing an impossible chance at love, only to show that in the world of romance magnetic attraction occurs regardless of interference.  The romantic nature of the film leads viewers to overlook a rather interesting element of Weir's film, which is his focus on the diversity that exists within urban New York City.  The film opens with a shot of a young African-American boy playing drums on a paint bucket briefly showing the lower class experience.  The lower class is exemplified by Georges whose immigrant status prevents him from gaining any respectable job, thus landing him a short stint as a waiter in a ethnic restaurant.  This life is juxtaposed by Bronte who is successful enough to partake in a non-profit gardening group and is friends with other New York socialites whose evenings consist of wine and classical music.  Sandwiched between Georges and Bronte are a variety of other people from various classes and race implying a multiple voice narrative that is undeniably interconnected.  It is obvious that Weir's Australian origins allow him to focus on New York with a different lens, one that notes its blatant class disconnect despite each group crossing paths on a daily basis.

I would recommend this to fans of romantic comedies.  It is no Annie Hall, but for those willing to relax and watch an easygoing movie this is certainly the one, and copies of the DVD are surprisingly cheap.

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