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Valentine’s Day

After sitting at my desk the whole day, reading for my thesis yesterday, I just wanted to crash on the couch and watch something kind of ‚dull‘. So I started watching Valentine’s Day an ensemble romantic comedy movie from 2010. It was a Valentine’s Day blockbuster which did pretty well in cinemas but was not highly acclaimed by critics with an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

So actually it fullfilled my needs for a dull movie. But be that as it may, you can’t switch your brain of entirely, can you? So I still liked the entangled storylines. I fell for the mystery of the guy and the woman on the plane, which only resolved in the very last sequences of the film.
But most of all I liked the intertextuality. So there is this long-time married couple (Edgar and Estelle Paddington). He finds out that she (Shirley Maclain) had an affair. Usually they go to the cemetery and watch a movie on each Valentine’s Day, this time they don’t. He goes to watch the movie on his own. It’s a black-and-white movie starring his wife. (Hot Spell, 1958) Afterall Estelle comes to the cemetery calling out for her husband and they reunite in front of the screen showing the younger version of her and it looks like what she says in Valentine’s Day mimics what she says in Hot Spell.

Shirley Maclain in "Valentine's Day" and "Hot Spell"

Shirley Maclain in „Valentine’s Day“ and „Hot Spell“

What is amazing about this, is the sublime way of breaking the fourth wall. In Valentine’s Day Shirley Maclain is Estelle Paddington and in Hot Spell the name of the character she’s playing is Virginia Duval. So these are to totally different characters, the only thing they both got in common is the actress portraying them. So who is Shirley Maclain in Valentine’s Day then? Is she Estelle Paddington? – The credits say so. But how can it be then that her husband says „That’s my girl.“ pointing at the screen where Shirley Maclain is portraying Virginia Duval? So is she Virginia Duval then? – Most probably not, as Virginia Duval is a 19 year old girl experiencing first love and the story of Virginia Duval has nothing in common with the story of Estelle Paddington. So she is Shirley Maclain then? – Yes and no. And here the film breaks the fourth wall. She is Shirley Maclain and Estelle Paddington at the same time, because only Shirley Maclain can be related to both characters, though she is not portraying herself in Valentine’s Day

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