A classic fairy tale with a twist that swept Gen Y with its shy romantics gets questioned by Gen Z. In the big bad real world, the ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ are too many, shares Raghvi Arora.
Pretty Woman, a 1990 American Romantic Comedy film, was quite ahead of its time; depicting an unusual love story in kind of a misogyny. A Garry Marshall directorial, the film begins with a simple question: “What’s your dream?” and then travels through the lives of Vivian, a prostitute and Edward, a successful business tycoon; both in search of their dream of finding themselves and true love.
The story revolves around the two protagonists who happen to accidentally meet on the streets of Los Angeles. Where Vivian roams dejected searching for a new clientele in order to pay her dues, and Edward lands up confused asking for directions, heartbroken and fresh out of a new breakup. Their love story blooms inside a penthouse where Edward pays Vivian to accompany him for the night, eventually hiring her for the week to accompany him to his social cum business gatherings. Further, the film depicts an unrealistically smooth transition of a prostitute right off the streets, into a highly sophisticated woman, socially acceptable to be a rich man’s love interest. The road uphill has only a few bumps which is quite hard to swallow. But at the same time, it gives a very strong message that money can buy and change anything and can swipe one of its identity right off.
What’s convincing about the film is the portrayal of two cold-hearted realists, submerged underneath their struggles and no longer wishing to unleash their true self to the world. But eventually, the warmth of each other’s genuine affection, honesty and simplicity helps them in overcoming their personal barriers and finding meaning and love.
Starring Julia Roberts (Vivian) and Richard Gere (Edward), Pretty Woman is a sweet and innocent film. It could have marched us down the mean streets into the sinks of munificent, instead it glows with romance and victory with a fairytale ending. But when the lights are back on and clouds of comfort have passed, there are questions that leave the viewers unsettled.
What if Edward wasn’t a billionaire? What if he had really employed her just to seek pleasure? What if he had no money to transform her into a socially acceptable sophisticated woman, would she still fall for him? And why the ending had to be a cliché with white limousine and red flowers? The film could have shown the more real side of life, of how two realists from two different worlds, can’t really end up together that easily. But it didn’t, for the real foundation of Pretty Woman, was a dream. Dream that fills up the heart and starves the mind.
In the end, Pretty Woman can be summed up as indeed a pretty one, perfect for someone looking for some mush on a weekend night. Julia and Richard are a treat to watch, the slow and apt background music easily transports its viewers to dreamland and the climax has an answer to the question posed at the beginning: “… Some dreams come true, some don’t. But keep on dreaming; there’s always a time for dreams.”
Raghvi Arora is currently a student at NIFT, Bengaluru, and an avid reader.
This essay was written for the ‘Creative Writing’ course at NIFT, Bengaluru.