The Daily Gamecock

Review: 'Lovebirds' should put aside their 'Pride and Prejudice' to communicate in relationships

Valentine’s Day can make people reminisce on their favorite fictional relationships between characters. Some couples, though, may overthink their relationship’s state and compare it to fictional ones. Some movies can misconstrue our understanding of what a healthy, communicative relationship looks like. 

Movie: “Pride and Prejudice”

Release date: Nov. 11, 2005

Director: Joe Wright

Runtime: 2 hours 9 minutes

Genre: Romance/Drama

Columnist's rating: B+

Director Joe Wright never read the book “Pride and Prejudice” before his interview to be the director of the 2005 film. It worked out though as he amplified what the characters would be feeling behind the movie and book's scholarly and somewhat confusing dialogue.  

Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen), wealthy lord of the Pemberley estate, is introduced as a "prideful" and most "disagreeable man", while upper-middle-class lady Elizabeth Bennet (Kiera Nightly) is observed as an intelligent, opinionated woman.

Elizabeth's initial impression of Darcy was tainted by his aloof behavior at a ball. As their relationship developed, their inability to agree on anything made Darcy's admiration for Elizabeth grow. She resists his advances, which has apparently proven to be the most effective yet incredibly problematic way to attract men. He proposes to her twice and spends lots of money proving his propriety.

In the end, Mr. Darcy is revealed as merely a wealthy man with a bad reputation caused by his crippling social anxiety and extreme loyalty to those he loves.

Knightley’s emotional, yet headstrong performance shows female individuality in a time where women existed in ways simply to impress future husbands. 

A pivotal scene in the book was Mr. Darcy's first proposal that took place in Elizabeth's bedroom in which Darcy underwhelmingly says he loves her "most ardently." 

Wright dramatized the scene with lots of rain, running and yelling, unlike the book. The setting made the actors' chemistry and tension during their argument palpable. This contributes to the manipulative trope glorifying fights with partners — although audiences seem to eat it up.

Macfadyen’s casting was stellar, as his facial acting balanced Darcy’s internal conflict between his passion for Elizabeth and upholding his reputation.

Darcy, however, is not a character anyone should idolize as the perfect partner. Macfadyen accurately played him as a toxic, condescending and downright rude man who proposed to and said he loved Elizabeth despite his better judgment — talk about backhanded.

The story is beautiful and entertaining despite the sexist trope that a woman's ambitions belong in marriage and offspring. Elizabeth is supposed to be a progressive woman and even she ended up married. Whether it's a truly happy matrimony, we never find out.

Though the characters are far too involved in each other’s personal lives and dealt with conflict in a super frustrating way, you can’t help but beg the two characters to stop being so stubborn and kiss.

Movie: “The Lovebirds”

Release date: May 22, 2020

Director: Michael Showalter

Runtime: 1 hour 26 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure and Romance/Comedy

Columnist's rating: B

On the flip side, "The Lovebirds" is an unapologetic depiction of a couple well out of the honeymoon phase.

Leilani (Issa Rae), a spontaneous advertising executive and Jibran (Kumail Nanjiani), an insecure documentary filmmaker, are the epitome of opposites attract. Their love story screeches to a halt when they start fighting about everything.

Their playful insults turn into genuine slights when they’re in their car on the way to a dinner party. Leilani wished her boyfriend would be less bitter and condescending whereas Jibran viewed his girlfriend as a narcissist who cares more about her Instagram profile than her boyfriend.

The script of “Lovebirds” gave the actors plenty of freedom for improvisation. The audience can tell the couple loves each other but with such different views of the world, they can still talk past one another. It's interesting to see this onscreen because bickering is often portrayed as a deal-breaker and not something a couple can work through. 

Rae and Nanjiani are hilarious in their portrayal of a couple that is perfect on paper but ignores each other's wants and needs due to their lack of constructive communication.

In a turn of events, the couple stumbles onto a crime scene where they have to put their newfound relationship status aside and save each other from being wrongfully convicted.

On the run from the cops, Leilani brings up a couple they saw at dinner once. The couple seemed quiet as if they ran out of things to talk about. Leilani alludes to their fighting and speaks to the idea that, “Maybe [the couple] [was]n’t miserable. Maybe they were just comfortable.”

The plot is a little all over the place, but it doesn’t need everything to tie together when the actors have so much chemistry, they can improvise most of the scenes with dramatic tiffs.

Leilani talks about her friends’ Instagram photos of her and her boyfriend. Because of the way her friend presented her relationship on social media, she thought their relationship was loving and passionate. Her friend confided in her that her exes follow her page and she just wants to make them jealous.

This is a turning point in Leilani and Jibran’s relationship and they eventually realize they’ve been putting their insecurities and perceptions of others first before they even paid attention to each other.

The couple finally goes to the police station to explain their situation. There they realize what went wrong and decide to give their relationship another try.

It’s easy for us to assume once the spark of the first couple of years is over, we’re just not with the right person. All epic romance stories either involve emotional turmoil before the climactic kiss or don’t even address the long-term relationship following the events.

On Valentine’s Day, and really every day, we have to remember relationships aren’t successful and beneficial to both people without hard work and dedication to each other. Learn to communicate in healthier ways -- don't rely on movies to show you how to love.