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STORY OF US, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Married for 15 years, Ben (Bruce Willis) and Katie (Michelle Pfeiffer) Jordan are at breaking point in their relationship, despite having two great kids and a comfortable life. Somehow, they are at war instead of in bliss: proximity is fatal. They were always different - she a stickler for order, he a chaotic writer without a head for detail - but that used to be a plus in their friendship and their love. No longer: something (was it life's grind?) has made them adversaries. Can they defeat the culture of conflict they have created, not just for the kids' sake, but for their own?

"From the very beginning, Eric Clapton's distinctive guitar plays its haunting tune, its spine prickling modulation as surprising as a new relationship. And a relationship with all its ups and downs is what it's all about. Delightful in every way, The Story of Us is an absolute charmer – a romantic comedy with pizzazz. Capturing moments of intimacy that will ring true with anyone who has ever had a relationship, it's about the little things that drive us mad in our every day life. It's about our inability to deal with them, and how we inadvertently allow them to intrude into our relationships. The never-ending demands of children, the overflowing washing machine, that unfavourite in-law… Where did romance go? And why do all the character traits that drew us first of all to our partner, now irritate? Structure, script, ideas and direction are superb, as are the performances of its two charismatic stars. Michelle Pfeiffer, impossibly beautiful with her wide-eyed classical features, has never been better; her comedic touch is light and sweet. Bruce Willis is a terrific surprise, and quite different from his action roles. Here his action is focused on the emotional angst, and he is sardonic, funny, warm and witty. (If you're like me, you will be fascinated by his ever-changing hairline, especially in the flashback scenes of him as a younger man.) Clever editing allows us to jump backwards and forwards in time – each flashback gives a greater insight and envelops the characters with more layers. Commanding Rob Reiner and scene-stealer Rita Wilson head the top supporting cast, bringing some of the film's funniest moments. The Venice scenes (beautiful Venice!) are the epitome of romantic fantasy, and while they may not be totally believable, the performances are so darned enjoyable, you can't help but enjoy the ride. Uplifting, romantic and funny, The Story of Us captures the shades of grey within a relationship. It's a treat you shouldn't miss."
Louise Keller

"The Story of Us is made with heaps of heart and an abundance of ambition, trying to capture the agony and ecstasy of a long relationship. It also tries hard to do this in a palatable and digestible way - which is not the way of the world, but it is the way of commercial filmmakers. Am I being cynical? Well, a tad, but the film does get to me and it does try very hard to make all this an engaging entertainment. And succeeds, to a large extent. It's trying to achieve catharsis without pain, perhaps…. Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer make a good modern couple and are well supported throughout (especially by the kids) and both have some key scenes where they are tested as actors - and they deliver. Willis shows more of his range and Pfeiffer seems to rise to a new level, too. The script pings with observation and Reiner's confidence with some of the fantasy scenes (eg the couple in bed while both sets of parents appear alongside as personifications of their influence and advice) is notable - while his use of romanticism juxtaposed with angst driven reality is brave and funny. You either buy it or you don't. I do. There is only one aspect of the script that doesn't work, and that's Pfeiffer's dalliance with another man (they meet at a cooking class). The idea is misplaced here, looking like a cheap device. Otherwise, The Story of Us works well."
Andrew L. Urban

"If Rob Reiner meant The Story of Us to be anything other than his post-When Harry Met Sally movie, he's done little to disguise it. This is so much a progression of his smash hit from a decade ago that he could have slipped Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan into the leads and called it When Harry and Sally Got Married. What Reiner said about friendship in his old film, he says much the same about marriage in his new film, and he uses the same template to do so. Like Crystal's Harry, Willis's Ben is the jokey but sensitive type. Like Ryan's Sally, Pfieffer's Katie is the neurotically ordered fusspot. Give them a strange chemical attraction, place them in a charmingly confused world, add similar dialogue (men discussing women, women discussing men) and you've got a thinly veiled sequel. There's even the same scenes of couples-on-couches discussing their marriages, the same in-bed arguments and make-ups. I recall a suspiciously sequel-ish relationship between Pretty Woman and Runaway Bride from last year (a decade likewise between them). Is the 'Disguised Sequel' a new Hollywood trend? But to give The Story of Us its due, unlike When Harry Met Sally this isn't about the warm fuzzy niceties of growing old together. Ben and Katie's attraction pass after marriage, and conversations usually end with vein-popping blow-outs or stony silences. If that's what Harry and Sally were in for, then 'better dead than wed's the motto here. The flashback method is used repeatedly, capturing good times and bad, and Eric Clapton's bittersweet ballad tugs just a little more on the heartstrings. So despite the debt it owes to its parent film - and thanks to the undeniably talented Mr Willis and Ms Pfieffer - The Story of Us resonates with enough human melancholy to make it almost essential viewing for anyone who's in, been in, or contemplating being in a long term relationship. It's a romantic comedy, but it's loaded with enough emotional angst, frustration, unknowing, sadness, and tears to scare the mushiest of couples. Interesting paradox. Watch and be warned!"
Shannon J. Harvey

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

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STORY OF US, THE (M)
(US)

CAST: Bruce Willis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tim Matheson, Rob Reiner, Rita Wilson, Paul Reiser, Julie Hagerty

DIRECTOR: Rob Reiner

PRODUCER: Frank Capra III, Tammy Glover, Jessie Nelson, Rob Reiner, Alan Zweibel

SCRIPT: Alan Zweibel, Jessie Nelson

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Chapman

EDITOR: Alan Edward Bell, Robert Leighton

MUSIC: Eric Clapton, Marc Shaiman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Lilly Kilvert

RUNNING TIME: 95mins

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: United International Pictures

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 16, 2000







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