Girl meets the boy of her dreams, spends most of the movie wooing him or getting wooed, overcomes trust barriers, then lives happily ever after—that’s the rom-com formula. But lately a trend has been brewing where a romantic comedy has a different type of love at the forefront of its plot, while the romantic-type sizzles on the backburner. While Bride Wars proposed a plot about the love between two best friends, Shopaholic unveils a love for fashion.
Devil Wears Prada may have coveted couture and Sex and the City may have worshiped it, but Shopaholic charged it on three overdrawn credit cards and traded a kidney for it. Nothing stands between Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher from Definitely, Maybe) and a sale—not even a guy. While some feminists may perceive the film’s materialistic theme to be condescending and degrading, it’s actually quite empowering to imagine a world where a girl’s life doesn’t revolve around who she’s going to marry. Rebecca is presented to us with a solid personality. She isn’t defined by the kind of guy she likes or the kind that likes her. Not once in the entire film are we introduced or informed of someone she dated or someone who wants to date her. She isn’t a sex object. She’s a style icon…a fiend actually.
While romance is a factor in her life and an option, her appeal doesn’t come from her cleavage or even (gasp) her tailor-fit clothes. Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy from The Jane Austen Book Club) falls for her creativity. Eager to escape the superficiality of his wealthy upbringing, he’s immune to her gaudy appearance. And while she isn’t totally blind to how handsome he is, she wasn’t sold on it either. What clinched it for him was his confidence in her and his ability to act as her proverbial ruby red shoes, providing comfort whenever anxiety works through her—from her Louboutin pumps to her Bendel’s scarf. It’s genuine and substantial.
I’ve covered the romantic portion, but it’s important to note that the film also delivers on the comedy. If you liked Isla’s mini-psychotic rampage in Wedding Crashers, picture that for two hours, complete with designer clothes and a whole lot more sexual restraint. Isla’s extremely talented at physical humor and the writers deserve a lot of credit for managing to make Sophie Kinsella's novel content relatable even to the fashionably
Devout Shopaholic fans might be annoyed by the fact that it’s not exactly a word-for-word replica. After all, it doesn’t even take place in England. But the producers did a good job by casting Isla. The role required someone who could handle a zany moment as well as a heart-felt scene, and Isla's strawberry honey hair screams for you to look at her, while her big brown eyes invite you to love her.