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By: JF Lawton
Administered by: Garry Marshall
Starring: Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Jason Alexander, Laura San Giacomo
Watch the trailer
A corporate raider hires a beautiful prostitute as a social event escort for a week but they fall in love.
It does a great job of building characters and moments. Even though it’s an absurd premise, the movie does a great job of making you completely buy into this couple’s fantasy and want them to end up together. This is a romance movie that is well written, a rarity. Despite the good writing, Julia Roberts sells this movie. This was her breakout role, and it’s clear why and how she became a prominent film star. It’s such a fun movie.
Look at it.
The script was widely rejected due to its dark themes of prostitution and drugs. Many A-list actors turned down starring roles, though this was before the shift in tone to more comedies. Even Gere refused at first. After the revision of the script, it became a different film. Ferrari and Porsche rejected product placement for Edward’s car, accepting Lotus.
A comedy about a hooker and a guy who falls in love with her has been a hard sell. The movie upset industry expectations and made Julia Roberts, previously unknown, a star. The fact is, he would have become a star with any blockbuster movie. He is totally impressive.
Edward (Richard Gere) is a businessman devoted to his work. He is a corporate raider who buys struggling companies and then breaks them up and sells the parts. This made him very rich, but he had no intimate relations. His girlfriends know his secretary better than him.
Edward goes for a drive in a Lotus and gets lost, only to see Vivian (Julia Roberts) on a street corner. She doesn’t understand his profession at first, but he talks her into paying for the instructions and rides with him to his hotel.
|Julia Roberts, Richard Gere as Vivian, Edward
Edward invites Vivian into his room. Why? It certainly helps the plot, but it can be sympathetic as she waits for the bus alone or she seems harbored by the conspiracy. They are obviously of different socioeconomic levels, and there is inherent comedy with Vivian staying with older patrons in an upscale hotel where she doesn’t dress like a hooker.
Edward wants a companion to several business meetings for the next week and is willing to pay for her time and clothes.
There are movies that are good and movies that connect because we want to believe in fantasy. Movies can be both, and I forgot how good this movie is. We know the underlying divide and it sets up these moments that meet and subvert expectations. At a boutique, Vivian is fired because the staff think she can’t afford it because of how she looks. Then we get a nice moment at the hotel, where we think the manager is going to scold her, but he helps her. It’s sweet and funny.
This movie does not increase the divide between Richard and Vivian. It could easily be profane, but it isn’t. It is a romance movie with a twist, ambiguous and dances around the reality of Vivian’s profession. This creates a situation where Edward can be her savior from that life.
Gere and Roberts have great chemistry and we can tell the characters like each other. He’s cultivating her while helping her slow down and enjoy life. It’s sweet, and we want to buy into this love story that two very different people can have a relationship that works.
This movie builds character and plot scene by scene, taking time to establish roles and relationships. I often don’t like happy endings because they’re too easy or a cop out. In this movie, I wanted a beautiful ending for these characters. I wanted to see them together. It’s a smart romance film, and that doesn’t happen often.