This week, we take a look at Aniston’s post-Pitt break up movie, in which she stars with that loveable, fast-talking rogue, Vince Vaughn, as his exasperated partner.
FILM: The Break-Up
DIRECTOR: Peyton Reed
CHARACTER NAME & PROFESSION: Brooke Meyers, Art Dealer
PLOT SUMMARY: Brooke and Gary (Vince Vaughn) are in a long-term relationship. They live together in a comfortable apartment in Chicago. One day, Brooke becomes tired of Gary’s selfishness and immaturity, when he fails to support and help her in the preparation of a family dinner. Having been through the same argument several times, she decides to break up with him, hoping he will change his ways to win her back. Instead, on getting some pretty poor advice from his best friend Johnny (Jon Favreau), who immediately suggests Brooke is sleeping with someone else, Gary starts playing games in order to drive he rout of the apartment. Brooke retaliates with her own childish behaviour. Eventually they get to the heart of why they fell out, but by that time, they’ve hurt each other too much to reconcile.
CHARACTER TRAITS: Generous, sharp, resourceful, patient, impetuous.
NOTES ON PERFORMANCE: Aniston is excellent here. Brooke begins by appearing as a typical over-achieving woman, presented in broad strokes – taking the burden of creating a lovely home and maintaining a great career – but then a highly nuanced performance emerges. When Brooke eventually reveals her heartache, Aniston conveys her pain acutely, showing her struggle to communicate her true feelings in the face of such an overbearing partner.
NOTES ON FILM: What’s brilliant about The Break Up is that the drama is weighted equally between the two leads, so that Brooke’s internal life and Gary’s poor decisions are portrayed with equal sensitivity and humour. This is also clearly to aid the audience to ‘pick a side’ as the marketing so blatantly suggested, and to an extent Brooke and Gary can be seen a characters simply conforming to male and female conditioning. He’s boorish and self-absorbed, obsessed with getting a pool table, she’s complimented for her home decorating skills by her mother etc. There’s also a pretty silly last act reveal from Favreau’s Johnny, who suddenly comes out with the insight about Gary that would have been pretty helpful to him at the start, but hey, that would ruin the fun, right?
Also worth noting this is the third film we’ve seen Jason Bateman and Aniston appear in together (he plays the couple’s realtor).
CONCLUSION: A seriously good Aniston film, mostly well written and beautifully performed.