I once met a couple who told me that they first saw each other during a party, each standing alone without any friends to keep them company (they were surrounded by uncles and aunties). As soon as their eyes collided, they sensed loneliness and boredom in each other, which drove them to have a conversation. I was fascinated by their story because their first interaction wasn’t driven by physical appearance but by their inference of each other’s mental state. I love witnessing and hearing about such incidents. It shows that humans can connect through an invisible bond that transcends logic and resides in the realm of emotions.
In Marry Me, Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) and Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson) have that invisible bond. She is a famous pop star and he is a Math teacher — there is nothing common in their profession. But they both know what’s it like to be sad, separated and alone. During Kat’s wedding, which is streamed live on the internet and attended by thousands of fans in person, she discovers that her fiancé, Bastian (Maluma), has cheated on her. Kat breaks into a mournful speech in front of an audience keen on filming her, when her eyes meet Charlie’s, probably the only person who is looking at her and not his phone. In that crowd, these two occupy the same emotional frequency, which makes Kat notice Charlie and leads her to marry him (of course, there is that sign, too, that he holds in his hands). You see, the character’s decision is more than just convenient writing. Their relationship is forged on a spiritual understanding. “Look, I was just trying to help someone who seemed like they were in the middle of a nervous breakdown,” says Charlie to Colin (John Bradley), Kat’s manager. He married Kat because he knew what she was going through at that particular moment and not because he wanted to gain something.
On the screen, these layers might not be visible to a casual viewer and the film, too, unfolds as breezily as possible. But if you carefully notice the performances of both Lopez and Wilson, you will see the motivations behind their characters’ actions. The actors share terrific chemistry. You buy everything Marry Me sells because you believe there is something real between Kat and Charlie. Observe them as they are interviewed by journalists who throw questions like “So, you think it’s romantic marrying a complete stranger?” and “So, what, you just saw each other and said ‘yes’?” at them (these questions can also be seen as being directed towards billions of other similar rom-coms). Whenever one struggles to explain further or come up with an answer, the other person jumps in and continues the discussion. It’s like watching one of those couples who always back each other up and support their partners so that neither of them faces embarrassment. It’s an adorable scene.
Jimmy Fallon‘s comments like, “On the way home from the concert tonight, Kat Valdez also left the guy from the concert, then married her Uber driver,” are funny, but when you look at Kat’s unhappy face, you feel bad for her. Similarly, when Charlie’s daughter tells him not to walk with her to school, you chuckle but then immediately notice Charlie’s unhappy face and feel for him. Marry Me combines humour and drama without ever becoming mawkish or farcical. The movie makes fun of the rom-com tropes but it never undermines them. During the separation phase, Charlie says, “I can’t get away from her. There’s always a poster, a Vitamix or a billboard.” This is exactly what happens in these movies when the lovers are temporarily parted: they think about each other constantly. Here, the idea is made literal by all the posters, Vitamixes, and billboards. On the set of Jimmy Fallon’s show, Kat utters, “I know it’s an inopportune time to have an epiphany,” as if nudging towards the fact that rom-com characters are randomly hit with realization in the middle of an important activity or at the most inappropriate time (say, while marrying their ex or someone else).
There are scenes in Marry Me – like when Kat makes a surprise entry inside Charlie’s class or when they go to the school dance – that give you a sugar rush. In fact, every scene that had Charlie and Kat happy and together filled me with ecstatic pleasure. I was satisfied by this film that displayed no false sentiments and respected its material.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.