Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Broadcast News (1987)

Eric Jessen 6/23/09

Whenever I think of the TV news business I'll think of the movie Broadcast News and Jane(Holly Hunter), Aaron (Albert Brooks) and Tom(William Hurt) as if they were real. Broadcast News is a good movie because it knows what it's talking about. It's smart, which is less common in movies then you might think. This movie, like most movies, focuses on its characters, and their love affairs, but it doesn't use the news business as an arbitrary back drop for a few lines or laughs. It understands how being in the news business shapes it's characters. Jane, Tom, and Aaron are all experimenting with love as a basic human nature, but they all put their work above relationships.
Broadcast News' greatest strength is in the nuances of it's characters. Jane, Tom, and Aaron were all born for their jobs (as you'll see in the first scene). Jane is an obsessive but brilliant producer who is frumpish (shoulder pads, pant suits, and the same hair cut as my 10th grade math teacher) and socially awkward. (Holly Hunter's voice is annoying at first but you'll get used to it.) She likes Aaron and they enjoy each other's company, but he's ugly and she falls for Tom because he's oh so dreamy. The only problem is Tom personifies what she hates. He exemplifies the networks moving from news to entertainment. He is an idiot and knows nothing about journalism but is gaining in success off of his looks. Jane is forced to make the essential decision of the movie. Which will she chose, her job and her ethics as a journalist or Tom and love. You'll find out in an ending that strays from conventional Hollywood but is consistent with the rest of the movie.
Possibly the most entertaining character is Aaron. He is charming and witty but also bitter. He is intelligent and a great reporter, but wishes he were an anchor. His looks have always been holding him back in the news business. Ever since he was getting beaten up on the playground he acts snarky towards other people. He is in love with Jane but understands that she will never love him. He seems more than any of the other characters capable of choosing a relationship, especially with Jane, over his job.
The only problem I have with this movie is that it's realistic to a fault. It has no flash or surprises that would have me wanting to watch it again. It throws aside every sense of romanticism that we get from most movies. Usually being different is a good thing, but in this case I'm left not caring about the story or the characters because they don't change. The movie treats network TV moving from news to entertainment as an unsolvable problem and it treats its characters choosing their jobs over relationships as an unchangeable fact.
I may not watch it again any time soon but I'll always remember moments like when every so often Jane stops the movie in its tracks to take a second to cry/laugh. She's crying because of the stress of her job but she's laughing because she loves it.

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