February 26, 2024

Since the media is subjective, there are few indisputable statements, but the truth is the truth Keanu Reeves can do no wrong. He redefined the modern American action hero more than once with a filmography impressive enough to make cinephiles shiver in fear. His extraordinary commitment to authentic fight choreography and his well-known bona fide reputation (funny contrast; the man has plenty), and his current fictional avatar avenges the puppies. There’s little in the visual realm that Reeves can’t achieve, and that includes romantic comedies. His turn by Nancy Meyer 2003 rom-com Something has to give He certainly caused a spike in hospitalizations for swooning while conducting an orchestra of audience hearts. Reeves captured the dapper, wholesome, and excited boyfriend while simultaneously humanizing the same archetype. Behold: the secret king of the rom-com.

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a walk in the clouds keanu reeves Aitana Sanchez-Gijon vineyard
Image via 20th Century Fox

At this point in his career, Reeves had already reached international superstardom with three Matrix movies like and 90s classics Point Break and speed. to join Something has to give the main quartet of actors, though different, were out of character; Reeves diversified his work early on. take it Bram Stoker’s Dracula (let’s let the accent talk die)Devil’s advocateand About nothing much all before 2003. Then he had the headline Constantine, A Scanner Darkly, and The day the Earth stood still. Reeves had already dipped his toe into romantic dramas A Walk in the Clouds (1995) and Sweet November (2001). His potential as a rom-com leading man was always there—the chance for something quieter, more charming, and more relatable than The One—but that potential had gone untapped for too long.

Something has to give it’s a completely different story. Reeves’ character, Julian Mercer, it is literally perfect; I looked up the definition in the dictionary. Before considering Reeves’ performance, credit must be paid where credit is due in that regard, and the wisdom of expert filmmaker Nancy Meyers is not underplayed. Behind the writer-director The bride’s father, the parents’ trap, is complicated, and holidays (everyone’s favorite excuse for booking an English cabin this winter), Meyers was a force to be reckoned with as a commercially successful and critically acclaimed woman in Hollywood. Something has to give It crystallizes its recurring thematic traits into a scathing, snarky, and honest celebration of the intellectual worth of middle-aged women while simultaneously championing their sexual desires (and desirability). Meyers draws perfect naturalistic moments from his actors: the little details they reveal or hide through expressions and dialogue beats say it all. And as for Reeves’ appeal, Meyers understood the assignment and used his underrated strengths in a heat-seeking missile.

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Reeves plays a romantic male lead in ‘Something’s Gotta Give’

Keanu Reeves and Jack Nicholson in Something's Gotta Give
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

Julian is a doctor when Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson) is taken to the hospital with a heart attack. Julian is a competent and calm doctor, beneath the surface humor, when he has assessed that Harry’s condition, although serious, is not an emergency. It calms anxious patients and also puts the audience at ease. The way her dark hair falls over her forehead deserves a standing ovation, but the real standout is lead actress Erica Barry (Diane Keaton) shares his name as part of an ongoing conversation. Julian’s expression changes from professional politeness to surprise and delight. As rom-com fate would have it, Julian loves Erica’s work as a playwright. The combination of his respect and unexpected presence leaves him temporarily speechless; He looks at Erica for a moment, half stunned, before forcing himself to move.

Julian then buys Erica, his daughter Marin (Amanda Peet), and his sister Zoe (Frances McDormand) hospital coffees. Marin stares dreamily, Zoe raises her “thank you” with fluttering eyelashes, and Erica acts like a normal human being unfazed by Keanu Reeves’ watchful approach. On the contrary, Julian is the one who bowled. Without crossing a professional line or entering the folk trail, he loves Erica’s plays. I’m sure he’s seen them all, and separated his latest work twice. When he leaves, he can’t shake his smile or his half-jumping demeanor. There are three scenes in total, and Reeves has already sold us his sincere interest in Erica and the undeniable rush he felt. He only had eyes for a room of three women, Marin and Zoe laugh at him and Erica, 56, ignores him.

Keanu Reeves and Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

As Harry is staying at Erica’s house for a few coincidences and comforts (among them, he’s a seventy-year-old playboy with Marin), Julian visits the patient as he recovers, but takes the time to ask Erica how she’s feeling. It is obvious that the man is crazy. She is playfully flirtatious without breaking social boundaries. Engaged, listening and has almost anime heart eyes. When Erica is laughing on the phone and Julian steals a glance, her adorable expression turns into something deeper. “My week is done” is dwarfed by the giant grin, but turns sour when Julian realizes how far he’s already fallen. So he leaves. He slips Erica a note asking her to dinner. Even the certainty behind his unanswered “did he pick you up around seven?” the question-and-answer is playful and eager, a contrast to Harry’s wicked arrogance. Reeves is not alone in turning his interest into meaningful development. In perfect rom-com tradition, her longing eyes convey that emotion. Unlike Harry, Julian needed no convincing of Erica’s brilliance, caliber and attractiveness.

Julian spends their entire fancy dinner with open body language, leaning closer to Erica than he should for a first date (she does the same). He delivers lines like “I’ve never been married, I’m a doctor; you wouldn’t believe what a cat is to some women,” with a straight face, except for the twinkle in his eye. She pauses midway, admitting that her sudden intense feelings for Erica are new, not because of her age (she’s been with him for twenty years), but because she’s never felt such a spark before. He stumbles briefly for words, as if he’s too embarrassed to admit that he needs to look for the right looks.

But her confidence in her feelings negates any momentary shyness. A hand is knitted on the back of Erica’s chair as she says that men her age who don’t find them attractive must be “stupid.” Then he leans down to smell her and kisses her neck. It’s a move to put the audience on their collective floors, and Reeves’ relentless smoothness wins. He’s charming without being a jerk, full of intent without being predatory, which is a delicate line for a romance to walk. Instead of wearing it off as a conquest, Julian must prove his sincerity because Erica could not understand that a younger, successful man sincerely adored her. He had to be pushed to accept or refuse, and Reeves never once expressed hostility. In short, Julian is perfect.

Reeves’ performance makes it impossible not to root for him

Keanu Reeves and Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

It’s the love story of Erica and Harry something has to give and they take the classic comedic journey of lovers between enemies. But Erica lights up under Julian’s attention. It forms a new play. When Harry leaves New York they become a happy and devoted couple. Fittingly, running into Harry at Erica’s birthday dinner (a posh restaurant in Paris, why would Julian do anything less?) also ends their courtship. Julian is in a museum in his black turtleneck sweater and how he kisses his and Erica’s intertwined fingers, but a silent understanding dawns when he sees the unspoken interplay between Erica and Harry’s words. A few carefully placed glances, withdrawn glances, and a broken heart (unless surprised) of the mouth led to a radiant comfort with retreats.

To make it as painful as possible, Julian steps aside like a gentleman so that Erica and Harry can be together. He wants and prioritizes Erica’s happiness above his own. Something has to give Meyers’ hand is almost perfect in every way, and centering on middle-aged romance with real middle-aged actors is nothing short of refreshing. But despite exploring the playboy-to-monogamist trope of Harry’s deliberate redemption, and Julian’s important role in Erica’s life, it’s impossible not to root for Julian and Erica. Don’t go for the reformed fool, Erica! Floppy haired Keanu is right there kissing the ground you walk on!

Now, Reeves once again has a piece of world domination thanks to success John Wick franchise, maybe he can direct his own middle-aged romantic comedy and secure that happy ending. Something has to give illustrated how the stereotype could shine; twenty years later, this energy is still underutilized. Get this king another comedy, stat.

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