Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"My Last Five Girlfriends"

My Last Five Girlfriends

Title: “My Last Five Girlfriends” - 2009
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Language and Run Time: English, 87 minutes
Director: Julian Kemp
Writer: Lack of internet access interfered with ability to research
Cast: Brendan Patricks (Duncan), Naomi Harris – internet problems restricted access to cast and character information

Story telling and humor carry this hilarious film. The comedic delivery helps impart meaningful insight into everyday struggles and situations. The movie provides a narrative recounting of Duncan’s relationship history over the last five girlfriends to enter his life. Through a series of stories regarding the build up, the relationship itself, and the break down of each relationship the film cuts straight to some honest, real world questions and explanations of the pain and joy that befall each of us on our quest for lifelong companionship. Humor is expertly used to soften the sting, yet enables the actors to dig deeper into these interesting questions regarding love, how you know when you’re in love, how break ups of happily joined couples come about, and what are some of the confusions and miscommunications that arise between different genders.

The movie begins with Duncan’s unexpectedly dark contemplation of suicide before he proceeds to walk us through the story of his relationship woes. The most superbly effective illustration of each relationship came in the form of a theme park called “Duncan World,” with each girl and relationship receiving her own dedicated ride. This park came complete with carnival sounds, screaming kids, tourists, eateries, and rides galore! There was even an in-park guide giving sarcastic, pointed tours of each period in Duncan’s life with park-goers filling the seats in his stretch golf cart.

His first relationship demonstrated the ignorant bliss often accompanying a first relationship, explained through hilarious, lively graphics. When discussing why he was so convinced that Wendy (girlfriend #1) was his destiny, a narrative of probability calculations set to a funny cartoon teacher graphic demonstrated how unlikely his odds were of meeting her on that plane at that time in that seat. He then goes on to explain how unrealistic and emotionally based our reasoning becomes in relationships. The attention to detail during the joint Wendy-Duncan narrative of this session reinforced some of Duncan’s complaints about her personality, which was further substantiated in the scenes to come.

For example, her clingy, controlling personality shone through in the details as she recounted the circumstances of their meeting down to the minute on that fateful day: 9:15 am got in cab, delayed 10 minutes because shampoo spilled in bag, cab ride took an hour longer because of road construction, she missed her flight, and happened to catch his flight with a seat right next to him.

This kind of self substantiation where the form of story telling with theme parks, detailed narrative, and relevant scenes, created a coherent interconnection of themes, plot, and characterization of each person in the movie. The variety of components included in the script and cinematography captured a comprehensive picture of relationships in its many forms and stages. Some components were off- the-wall, like the cartoon characters or fake game show clips that were used to make a narrative point about the flawed logic of Duncan’s “destiny girl” conclusion about Wendy. Other components were serious, such as the portrait of pain wreaked by heartache evident in the suicide note and the “apartment languishing” phase of break ups that consist of eating, laying in bed, and watching tv. More comedic elements helped to ease the sting of communicating the frustration of understanding the opposite sex. For example, the wit and hilarious tone in which Duncan recounted his huge falling out with Rona (girlfriend #3) over a pair of red shoes he deemed “the ugliest pair of shoes he had ever seen” cleverly illustrated the complexity of two-way communication.

This issue that turned out to be the final nail in the coffin of their mismatched relationship opened the debate about common problems with which every guy can relate. Directly relevant to this situation is the question: do you lie in response to opinion questions posed by your girlfriend? On one hand they (girlfriends) say that honesty is the most important building block of the relationship, however, when you tell them your honest assessment about the drapes or wall colors (or shoes in Duncan’s case) they get angry and tell you to be more considerate or that you don’t know what you’re talking about. He even explains that “she deserves better than being lied to” and that his opinion is not a reflection on her or his feelings for her, at all. Unfortunately, she could not separate his honest clothing opinion from his personal opinion of her, which provided the launching point for a massive argument about how he is a jerk and doesn’t care about her, her feelings, or her quirks. Appropriately, Rona’s ride in the amusement park was a roller coaster with red shoe shaped compartments.

Continuing in the vain of insightful commentary, Duncan objectively reflects on his relationship with Rona and illustrates the truth of the old adage, “Rome didn’t fall in a day.” His detailed analysis of their progression as a couple reveals the subtle cracks that actually developed in the relationship long before the epic “Red Shoe War.” The tale serves as a warning to viewers about the necessity to pay attention to the undercurrents of a relationship and how they affect the true health of the relationship as opposed to measuring relational health by number and magnitude of large fights. Similarly surprising in-depth revelations crop up in every story from the emotional issues with Gema (girlfriend #5) to the lack of connection with Olive (girlfriend #2).
Lastly, those wonderfully blissful, funny moments in relationships receive important screen time as well. I believe Duncan’s desperate attempt to get a date with Gemma is the best example of the power that women have over us guys and what we are willing to do to connect with the woman we care about. After not seeing her for months Duncan finally spots Gemma on a grocery run and decides that it’s now or never for his chance in the game of love when it comes to Gemma.

Being quick-witted and desperate, Duncan slips a pair of men’s socks into Gemma’s basket then sneaks out of the store and down the street. Casually walking back, Duncan “happens” to walk by the exit just as Gemma is being stopped and searched for shoplifting when the alarm goes off. To her surprise she finds that a pair of socks mysteriously made its way into her bag, but before she had time to figure things out her hero Duncan steps in to figure out a solution to the problem. After identifying the item as a pair of men’s socks then cleverly discovering that she does not have a boyfriend and therefore would have no possible motivation for stealing the socks, the store employee lets her go without further issue.

Upon returning to her car with Duncan at his side he slips up on his cover story and gives away the staged confrontation in an effort to play the hero and win a date. As corny and weird as this may sound, the scenario describes the lengths that we will go to as men to win favor in the eyes of a girl and show them that we care; a fact that was neither lost on nor resented by Gemma as she enthusiastically agreed to go on a date.

For those of you out there in relationships that have you at a loss for what to do then this movie is for you. You’ll find a wide range of personalities, relationships, and mistakes from which to learn and build a diverse repertoire of knowledgeable solutions with which to navigate your relationships. I highly recommend this riot of a comedy to anyone with a penchant for laughter or a need for deceptively perceptive advice into the world of dating.

Austin Hodge


  1. Austin,
    Gpa and I have a "penchant" to see this movie! We could use a good laugh....Does this film give you insight into the world of dating?
    Love you, Gma

  2. Glad you liked it, I'm in this movie, playing the part of Will, who steals Gemma off of Duncan, nice to see it playing in the US.