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So modest they don’t even have their bios in the film’s production notes, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa are responsible for all the pain in their latest film, as they explain to Andrew L. Urban.

The briefing notes given to the media for this film run to 45 pages, detailing everything about the production and bios of all the stars and crew. But there are only two and half lines devoted to the writer/directors*, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, arguably the most important players in the whole film. 

This is all it says:
“GLENN FICARRA AND JOHN REQUA (Directors) met at Pratt Institute, where they were both studying film. They have been working together ever since, both as screenwriters and directors.” 

* Dan Fogelman is actually credited as the writer. But the journey from script to screen is in the directors’ control …. And I daren’t speculate about the backroom wrangling about the final credits.

When I come face to face with the two guys in a Sydney hotel room (converted into a temporary interview studio, I should hasten to add) I hold up the wad of paper and point to the measly entry. “Have you seen this? How come you only get less than three lines?” I ask incredulously, expecting the storm to hit the fan.

"Almost unnatural modesty in Hollywood"

“Ah yeah,” Glenn Ficarra nods placidly, “that was our doing. We figured there’s so much stuff available on the internet about everything including us, why block up the printer …” Almost unnatural modesty in Hollywood….

Looking rather like some odd couple from a TV sitcom, the two unlikely filmmaking partners sit side by side, rather like two of the three wise monkeys. As we talk about their film, Crazy Stupid Love, it becomes obvious that they have done this before: Glann answers the first question*, there is no overlap or finishing each other’s sentences – which is somewhat different to how they actually work.

“We sit opposite each other with our laptops connected up and we write and talk … we can overwrite one another. It’s like a conversation,” explains John. (They’ve been doing it together for 23 years, most recently on the excellent I Love You Phillip Morris.) 

"Meet the pain merchants of comedy"

The script was “almost fully formed when we got it,” he adds. “We just tried to analyse and expand on the emotional truths, which the original script didn’t have …We added a lot of pain,” he says, before adding philosophically, “Everyone has some pain.” Meet the pain merchants of comedy.

* My first question was whether they expected such a big, positive response to the film, and Glenn said “it’s been wonderful, lots of interest… there are a lot of relationships involved, we weren’t sure … how that would work.” There you go, the insecurity of artists. But it worked well, certainly for this writer.

Directing the film became an extension of the writing process and they tend to agree on most aspects. “We try not to crowd people on the set,” says Glenn. “Making movies is basically problem solving and things change all the time so it’s a constant debate.”

"comedy is harder to make than drama"

They agree that comedy is harder to make than drama. “It’s much more laborious.”

Their sense of humour, says John, is characterised by extreme arrogance followed by extreme embarrassment – that’s the banana peel, really, as a character walks boastfully along the street to be totally undone by a lowly banana peel. 

All that pain that Glenn and John injected pays off, because audiences sense the truth of the complexity and difficulty of all relationships – at any age.

Published September 29, 2011

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Glenn Ficarra and John Requa


When Emily (Julianne Moore) files for divorce after 20 years of marriage, Cal (Steve Carell) is at a loss – and lectured by his 13 year old love-sick son Robbie (Jonah Bobo), who has fallen for the family babysitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton). Cal nurses his pain at a bar, where he meets Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who inhabits the singles bars, takes him under his Lothario wing and shows him the swinging singles ropes. But Jacob finds himself in the deep end when his one night stand with Hannah (Emma Stone) blossoms into a real relationship.

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