Saturday, 13 November 2010

The Souler Opposite

It took me a long time to come to terms with the idea of Bradley Whitford playing anyone other than Josh Lyman, but I got there, mainly thanks to people who kept insisting I had to watch Studio 60. I'm glad I did; thanks to my little crush on Brad, I've discovered a lot of films that I wouldn't have known about, most notably Little Manhattan, which is exactly the kind of thing I love but had never heard of and Burn Up, which I may not have thought I'd like, but I was captivated, and very cross when my laptop ran out of battery somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean before it finished.

It's taken me even longer to accept Janel Moloney as anyone other than Donna Moss, though I did see her guest spot on Sports Night, and enjoyed that. But a little while back I found the film The Souler Opposite on Amazon, and heck, there was politics, and while it was even stranger to watch Janel in a Donna-but-not-Donna role than it may be in, say, Armless, I'm all about the politics, so I couldn't resist.

Essentially, Barry is a failing stand-up comedian who bumps into Thea one depressing night, and they begin something like a relationship (Thea is not interested in having a boyfriend). The setting is pleasingly retro, 1992, and Thea is working on an electoral campaign for a Democrat named Joe Brown. She walks in off the street to the campaign and ends up with a job on the staff and an offer of being "half of a DC power couple". (It's worth noting that it was Aaron Sorkin who wrote the line: "Good writers borrow from other writers; great writers steal from them outright".) Every girl's dream, in other words, or perhaps not every girl's, perhaps only mine, and perhaps thanks to Janel Moloney in the first place. Anyway, I digress.

The film itself - I'm not sure. Parts I liked, parts I didn't. (The beginning, with Barry and his best friend as sixteen-year-olds, could have been cut.) Janel's character, Thea, seems like she has a lot of depth to her that never fully gets explored or explained - frustrating not just for me as a viewer, but for Barry, her "souler opposite" (played by Christopher Meloni, whose surname is presumably pronounced exactly like hers). There were some cheesy lines (kudos to Janel for keeping a straight face for that "nectar from the gods" line; aside from that I can't remember any, but cut me some slack, I was high up in the air, mourning my departure from America), but there was also some good writing, and the acting was fantastic - Thea was a totally different character from Donna and it's always a relief when your favourite actor turns out to be able to play distinct people. Also, Christopher Meloni is very easy on the eyes.

If you're hoping for deep political commentary, you'll be disappointed - but if you like the backdrop of politics and DC (thankfully, grey and rainy, which mitigated my mourning after three days there in the beautiful autumn sunshine) for a romantic chick flick with a pleasingly determined male protagonist, you could certainly do a lot worse.

Other reviews can be found here, and I particularly agree with the first line from the New York times: "Anyone who can get past the title pun and the opening shot of misogyny in ``The Souler Opposite'' is liable to like Bill Kalmenson's alm in spite of itself."


Anonymous said...

This is one I have wanted to see but not really want to purchase. I have it on my dvr autorecord and hopefully , like Burn Up, it will show up sometime. Thanks for the review.

Anonymous said...

If you want to see Janel in a VERY different role, catch her episodes of Brotherhood. But be warned-she effectively takes nice Donna out to the wood shed and shoots her!! Also, potty mouth and sex scenes may be more than you can handle,lol

Claire said...

Ha - not sure I am quite ready for that....... I love Donna too much!

Claire said...

In a very straight, I-want-to-be-best-friends-with-her kind of way. To clarify!