Navigating single-dom in a society that expects everyone to be in a relationship.
Directed by Christian Ditter (of Love Rosie fame), How to Be Single is a story about several people and their varying ways of coping with single life in New York City. Based on the book of the same name by writer Liz Tuccillo, who worked on Sex and the City, the screenplay was written by the same team behind Valentine’s Day and He’s Just Not That into You. Thus, it is no surprise that How to Be Single follows the same structure of several different intertwining character arcs.
The main character Alice, a romantic dreamer played by Dakota Johnson, is trying to find herself before committing to a serious relationship. As someone whose only experience of seeing Johnson act was in trailers for Fifty Shades, I’ll admit that I wasn’t that optimistic about her performance in this film. However, I was surprised to find that I was actually quite taken by her… the quirky, awkward character is endearing and surprisingly relatable, if a bit whiny. The other characters are likable but rather one dimensional. Although a few undergo the predicted transformation and end up changing their outlook on their single status, the development feels so forced that it almost counteracts the film’s main plot of accepting and being happy in yourself. In fact, the entire film seems to be more about how to cope with being single rather than how to embrace it. Even the main character, who breaks up with her college sweetheart of four years because she wants to experience the single life, jumps straight out of one relationship into another and then another. This culminates in an awkward but annoyingly cliché scene where she must navigate a party that all three men are also attending.
Despite these problems, How to Be Single is not a bad movie. It’s surprisingly fun with a great cast and a soundtrack which sounds like something straight out of any young person’s party playlist (this girl was sold from the start when Taylor Swift’s Welcome to New York started blasting through the cinema). Yes, it has a few cliché rom-com moments, like the one mentioned above and the emotional rollercoaster of Christmas scenes but it also has some aspects which are unique and tell us that it’s okay to be single if we want to be.
All in all it’s a fun, entertaining film which is probably the perfect antidote to the annoying cheesiness of Valentine’s Day we’ve just experienced. Yes it falls into a few common pitfalls that most romantic comedies do and it’s true that it’ll never win any awards for being a great film but How to Be Single is an up-beat, enjoyable film and really what more can you ask for than that?
Director: Christian Ditter
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie, Leslie Mann
Genre: Romantic comedy
Running Time: 109 minutes