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Film Comment (2005) - Falling in Love Again




In a letter to Chris Chang, Cavell reconsiders remarriage comedy in light of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," directed by Doug Liman. Cavell discusses two reviews that came his way, which placed the film in the region of the remarriage comedy, one explicitly naming the genre, the other implicitly alluding to it. listing among the film's predecessors the Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell vehicle in Howard Hawks' "His Girl Friday" and Alfred Hitchcock's "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" from 1941, with Robert Montgomery and Carole Lombard. Cavell states that one of the reviews makes it explicit that in Liman's film the incessant exchange of gunfire takes the place of the exchange of words that is an essential characteristic of the remarriage pair. But since this literalization of violence seems to open the path back to the pair's shared erotic life, is the film not rather a satire on the idea of remarriage rather than a continuation of it? He also asks whether the classical remarriage comedies themselves are satires on what is called marraige. In a classical remarriage comedy, the question of effectively inserting comedy into the serious business of marriage may be said to be the business of its narrative, culminating in endings that are not endings, resonant enough to propose themselves as unheard-of wedding ceremonies. It is a feature of this mode of comedy that the pair are shown at some point to become incomprehensible to the world beyond them.