This week’s installment of The Hairpin Rom Com Club is about the French rom com Amour et Turbulences:
Amour et Turbulences is what film scholars such as Stanley Cavell call a “comedy of remarriage”: the central conflict is not whether the couple will get together, but whether they’ll get back together after falling apart. Sometimes, in a comedy of remarriage, one of the parties is already married to someone else (or basically married) and the plot is whether they’ll stay with their spouse or fall for someone else. And if you want to know more about comedies of remarriage: Stanley Cavell coined the term and literally wrote the book on them.
All rom-coms contain some element of reconciliation or temptation – the template is “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back,” – but comedies of remarriage are a little more explicit about it, calling attention to the competition between old and new love. Lots of classic rom-coms are comedies of remarriage: His Girl Friday, Sleepless in Seattle, Bringing Up Baby, Adam’s Rib, and It Happened One Night, which I wrote about a few weeks ago. In His Girl Friday, for example, Cary Grant’s Walter makes the competition between himself and his ex-wife’s new fiancé, Bruce (played by serial nice boring guy Ralph Bellamy), very explicit, continually goading her about the boring suburban life that awaits her if she chooses Bruce instead of getting back with Walter. That comedies of remarriage became popular in the 1940s was no coincidence: divorce rates were rising, and with them, widespread cultural concern about the durability and relevance of the institution of marriage.
Against that backdrop, comedies of remarriage make the most sense; there was a spate of romantic comedies about divorced or separated couples reuniting and living happily ever after the second time around. Don’t worry,these movies seemed to say, this divorce thing isn’t going to totally change our culture and our understanding of gender. Whoops.
You can read the whole thing here.