When I read the first chapter of Emily Giffin’s Something Borrowed I was both infuriated and hooked. From the moment Rachel went home with Dex I knew I wasn’t in the same chick lit realm as so many books before it. Something Borrowed turned out to be a book about how complex relationships can be between women and how the sisterhood we are told is shared between women can be less about empowering the goddess within and instead full of rivalry, inadequacy, and disappointment .
And so knowing that a film adaptation could never live up to my experience of the book, I gripped my movie ticket in one hand and (because I forgot my own) my $4 bottle of water in the other, boldly walked passed the opening day line for Thor and entered the queue-less theatre to watch Something Borrowed starring Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson.
Earlier on this blog I lamented the fact that I was destine to become one of ‘those book people’ and although I have found this to be true I must say, Something Borrowed the film follows Something Borrowed the book satisfyingly close with a few delightful rearrangements as well as irksome omissions.
The general story is intact; Rachel attends her 30th birthday party that is being thrown for her by her best friend since 5th grade, Darcy. We quickly learn that Darcy is the loud, confident, party girl while Rachel is the quiet, demure, self deprecating girl. Darcy is engaged to Dex, Rachel’s friend and crush from law school. By the end of the night Rachel and Dex have slept together and the questions about love and friendship begin for this small group of 30-something New Yorkers.
What I Liked…
In addition to being pleased with how close to the book the movie stayed the cast was the next important piece of the puzzle. I know there has been a lot of talk about the casting choice especially when it comes to Kate Hudson but I am one of those people who sit on the side of loving the cast. I think Ms. Hudson was an excellent always-get-my-way Darcy and even though her (much debated) blonde hair plays into the stereotype of stuck up women, it works for film. I think she captured the essence of Darcy as a woman who does not sweat the small stuff and is burdened with no greater issue than having all her friends join her in the Hamptons for a fun filled weekend. Additionally, John Krasinski as Ethan was adorable and hilarious as ever making me embrace the inclusion of Ethan into the New York goings on instead of through phone calls across the pond. As an honorable mention, I just want to say how much I loved Ashley Williams as the Ethan chasing Claire. Williams’ face is so expressive that she is perfect for comedic roles and her timing with Krasinski was flawless.
…What I didn’t
I am upset that the focus of the film was about a woman sleeping with her best friends fiancé and not about a woman navigating her history and friendship with another woman. What I liked so much about the book was not only how it questioned the morality of sex and relationships but how at the heart of it all the story was about Rachel and Darcy’s friendship. To me, Dex, Ethan, and Marcus were superfluous to the relationship between these two women. I think the film lost the concept that Darcy was just as insecure in their friendship as Rachel was. This insecurity made Darcy likable and made it difficult to paint her as either villain or victim. The same goes for Rachel. And yet the film pits these women against one another. To the point were it becomes easy to take sides as moral absolutes are set in place.
At the point in the film where Rachel introduces Darcy to Dex and claims that she and Dex are “just friends” the woman sitting behind me in the theatre exclaimed to her friend, “I just lost all respect for her! It’s her fault!” Furthermore, the need for a Hollywood film to have a ‘happy ending’ erased the ambiguity of relationships at the end of Something Borrowed the book and attempted to make the audience feel happy that somehow everything works out. I walked away unable to feel happiness for what could only be described as a group of morally corrupt individuals. All I could think afterwards was that Ethan’s line to Rachel was so fitting, “You’re all going to Hell anyway” and that this was not a sentiment I shared at the end of the novel.
That being said, I did enjoy the film. It was fun to watch a book come to life on the big screen and to know that the cast embodied characters in many of the ways that I perceived them when reading their story. Unfortunately, Hollywood wanted this ‘chick lit’ novel to fit into the ‘chick flick’ fantasy of girl meets boy, falls in love, conflict, conflict resolved, happily ever after that I don’t think Something Borrowed lends itself to. The original story is complex, layered, and breaks formula in it’s desire to question sexual mores and the relationships between women.
I suggest this film for a girls night out and for anyone who has read the book and then I’d like to hear what you thought about it!
PS – Keep an eye out for an additional scene in the credits!