British humor is just better. It’s sharper, wittier, and darker than most of the 5th-grade level “common denominator” comedy that makes it into the media in America. It’s also missing a lot of the “Americana” baggage that makes our movies and TV often unpalatable. We have always taken ourselves too seriously. If that sounds horribly snotty and cynical, that’s because it is. American romantic comedy is usually insufferable. British romantic comedy, however, becomes not only tolerable but rather a genre to be sought out and enjoyed. Examples like Love Actually, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and the best TV series about friends and lovers: Coupling. Another (new) case in point: Tracks, a micro-budget Indie film directed by Jamie Patterson, set (and shot) in all the most romantic places in Europe.
Lucy (April Pearson) and Chris (Chris Willoughby) are bumping along in their second adolescence (AKA their thirties), neither one particularly happy nor unhappy. They are directionless in general, but especially so in their relationship. Together for a long time, they are too comfortable and don’t remember what was special about the relationship. They wonder if they should keep going as a couple, since the spark has, seemingly, gone. This is, of course, a conceit of youth. The rolling boil of that limerent New Relationship Energy must, of necessity, calm to a simmer after a space of time, or everyone would be too exhausted to make dinner. Still, they mourn the fire and decide to have an impetuous holiday across Europe, as a litmus test: if they don’t feel wildly romantic about each other in places like Paris and Venice, they assume they just aren’t the right fit any longer.
“…bumping along in their second adolescence (AKA their thirties), neither one particularly happy nor unhappy.”
Chris is a man-child jackass. He confuses “rude” for “funny.” Lucy is a smart, classy woman who could do far better than Chris. If I’d written the 3rd act, Chris would get the comeuppance he deserves, and we’d all enjoy the schadenfreude. You, dear reader, will need to see the film to find out where Patterson decided this international romp should land. It is very satisfying, even if I didn’t write it.
For a film shot on the run, with no budget, this movie looks, sounds, and is amazing. Pearson is gorgeous and stylish in the way of a Hepburn (take your pick which one), or Ingrid Bergman. She carries herself with confidence and a snarky little smirk. Willoughby, as Chris, plays the clueless boor so well that one hopes he’s a great actor because if he’s not acting, he’s in trouble. Patterson puts the couple into some cringe-inducing, awkward places that may make you cry-laugh. There’s no deeper message here. It’s two people trying to figure it out while backpacking across Europe, enduring a series of unfortunate events for your amusement.
Tracks is a light comedy with beautiful scenery, good for lightening your spirits even if the wolves are at your door.
"…comedy with beautiful scenery, good for lightening your spirits"