“Chasing Amy” is not the happily ever after romantic comedy that most people expect when they watch a rom-com. It is a film that delves deep into the themes of friendship, jealousy and what it means to love another human being. Everyone who has ever been in a long term relationship can relate to this film because it is unapologetically realistic.
People who like a dose of authenticity in their cinema will find that “Chasing Amy” is one of those films that only gets better with every rewatch. This is not a cookie cutter love story. Some people like a Disney princess ending where everyone is riding off into the sunset at the end. But the truth is that real life does not end after you “get the girl.” If a long term relationship is to survive, two people either learn to deal with each other’s baggage or throw in the towel.
This is not a film about two people that slowly drift apart. This is about one man’s inability to accept his girlfriend’s romantic history and how he ultimately loses her due to his own unsurpassable jealousy.
Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams) and Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) are successful comic book artists who meet at a New Jersey comic book convention. The two quickly hit it off, but Alyssa makes it clear that she is only interested in other women. Holden and Alyssa continue to spend time together platonically, but eventually fall into a romantic relationship. Alyssa lies about her heterosexual past, making Holden feel special that he is the first man she has ever been with. When he quickly finds out that this is not true, it wrecks their relationship as Holden is overcome by bouts of jealousy.
Oftentimes in relationships people have a hard time balancing work, friends and love. Holden and his comic book writing partner Banky Edwards (Jason Lee) slowly drift apart as the film progresses, as Holden begins spending more and more time with Alyssa and less time on their comic book and friendship. By the end of the film, Holden loses both his best friend and his professional life because he has spent too much time obsessing over his relationship. It is never easy balancing friendships and work life with one’s romantic life and oftentimes one aspect begins to fall short in some regard.
For people who love films that have something real to say about the human experience, “Chasing Amy” is that film. It is about realizing that your partner might be more sexually experienced than you and not being afraid of that. It is about not being afraid of a woman’s sexuality. It is about the double standards that men place upon women sexually. It is about how sometimes people treat someone badly when they are with them and only realize what a jerk they were after the relationship ends.
This is a film about failure. The failure to conquer your own insecurities which ultimately poisons your relationships. You can push away someone you were really in love with, only to regret later what a jerk you were. It is about the beginning, middle and end of a relationship. It is about falling in love, the loss of love and dealing with the kind of crippling heartbreak that just makes you want to die. It is also about sexual fluidity, growing apart from friends you’ve known for twenty years, and getting jealous over people your significant other was with before you. These are universal themes. Everyone who has ever loved has felt these feelings. That is what makes “Chasing Amy” so real.
When “Chasing Amy” premiered in 1997 the promotional posters read, “Finally a comedy that tells it like it feels.” Authenticity is the core principle of indie director Kevin Smith’s vision. On a budget of $250,000 and a box office return of $12 million, “Chasing Amy” became a sleeper hit. This is a movie that few people have seen. It is not considered a classic but it has received critical praise as one of Kevin Smith’s best works. According to Rotten Tomatoes, “Chasing Amy explores gender roles, sexual mores, and the limits of friendship with a mixture of sensitivity, raw honesty, and director/screenwriter Kevin Smith’s signature raunchy humor.”
Love is one of the most overdone topics in Hollywood cinema. Romantic comedy is an overplayed genre with its own series of repeating tropes. “Chasing Amy” manages to deliver without feeling repetitive or overplayed, it is a unique love story which breaks all the rules of its respective genre.