Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Morning Glory

Directed by: Roger Michell
Produced by: J. J. Abrams; Bryan Burk
Written by: Aline Brosh McKenna
Starring: Rachel McAdams; Harrison Ford; Diane Keaton; Patrick Wilson
Music by: David Arnold
Cinematography: Alwin H. Kuchler
Release date(s): November 10, 2010
Running time: 107 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English

What I admired most about Morning Glory was its resolute refusal to fall in the trap of the formula Hollywood romantic comedy. It comes dangerously close, the ‘object de amour’ is introduced in first 20 minutes, and the setting, a big city TV station, is an ideal place. Love is in the air. Only thing is, this Rachel McAdams vehicle is not a rom-com, and no, she does not fall in love with the Harrison Ford character in the end. In a world, where the formula is the safe bet, you must admire even a mushy film that dares to defy it, if only to a certain extent. Despite its courage, Morning Glory comes with own its territories, and in the end, fails to lift itself from the barriers of its own making.

Rachel McAdams has a commanding presence. But, does she have the strength to carry an entire film on her slender shoulders, a film which also features veterans like Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton? Recently, she was the time traveller’s wife, and the woman, Irene Adler, to Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes. So, answer to the above question would be, yes. Only if the film itself would help her. The film hinges on her inter-personal relations with the Ford character. Here, the film scores above the formula rom-com, and here, at the same point, the film fails, as the Ford character is not given enough space to grow. (or is it because as audience, even we have fallen prey to the formula and can’t do without it?)

After she is fired from her job without much ado, Becky, a workaholic executive producer of a TV station, lands in a job at Daybreak, a morning TV show without a respectable rating. Nevertheless, she is kicked about her work, and wants to prove herself, above all. But, things are not going well. On the first day, she fires the co-host of the show. This everybody appreciates, he was a creep anyway, but where would they find another host, when the company is not willing to spend anything on the show. Becky finds a chance with Mike, once a star reporter of hardcore news, now without a job, yet still in the payroll, because he won’t compromise the values.

When Becky suggests Mike to join her show, he thinks it’s a joke. It’s beneath his dignity even to be associated with such a show, let alone hosting it. Becky shows him the contract. Mike does not have a choice, and he reluctantly agrees. What follows next is the struggle of will between the host and executive producer, also involving the other host, Colleen, played by Diane Keaton.

Things go from bad to worse. The company threatens to shut the show. Becky seeks a month. Her love life goes for a toss, as she struggle to up the rating, all the while Mike remaining nonchalant. You know how the film ends. Our brave heroine will win the day, and everything will be all right.

Ford plays Mike as a man disillusioned with everyone around him. It's a huge departure from the action oriented roles Ford is known. Here, he is cranky and bitter. It suits him. But he gets too much wrapped in the role. So when the moment comes for him to compromise between the hard news (the corruption of the Albanian president), and the fluff (how to make a frittata), it fails to generate enough dramatic punch. Again, there was not enough interaction between Mike and Keaton’s character, Colleen. The Hollywood veterans have worked together for the first time, and the banters between them are the best scenes in the film. The chemistry is crackling, and its sad that the film failed to cash on it. At one point, you wish if there were more of Mike and Colleen than McAdams’ Becky. Like in all her films, here too Keaton plays herself, yet, when she is on screen, you cannot look at anywhere else. She has a way of making you listen to her; that attitude!

But McAdams is the centre of Morning Glory, and she holds the film together with enough charm and warmth. The zealousness she infuses in Becky’s need to succeed make her vulnerable and real, and makes you root for her, not in a formulaic way, but genuinely.

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