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Reality Bites

Movie Review

A couple holding cups of coffee and walking in the city street

Given that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, we felt it fitting that we should sprinkle a touch of romance into this month’s Good Vibes review. Now, it would always be unlikely that we go full cheesy rom-com (we already pushed ourselves a tiny bit into that world at Christmas with our Happiest Season review) So in true Penta fashion, we decided to do it our own way and think a little outside the box…

 

Way back before he directed box office blockbusters like Zoolander and Tropic Thunder, Ben Stiller made his directorial debut with a movie that is part love story, part coming-of-age movie and a reliable snapshot of the zeitgeist of Gen X in the early 90s. This month marks 30 years since the release of the film ‘Reality Bites’.

 

It follows four recent college graduates as they navigate the tricky transition from school to the “real” world. At the centre of the group is would-be documentarian and filmmaker Lelaina, played by Winona Ryder, who was already on course for Hollywood stardom at this point, and Troy, a philosophical slacker and musician brought to life by Ethan Hawke. As well as directing, Ben Stiller also stars as Michael, a TV Executive who after a slightly cheesy and very 90s meet cute becomes Lelaina’s boyfriend, setting up perfectly the who’s she gonna choose love triangle.

 

Despite their differences, Lelaina and Troy are drawn to each other, forming a complex and turbulent relationship that seems to mirror the challenges of their wider life in general. Their interactions range from witty banter and playful debates to moments of genuine connection, or conversely heated arguments, but we always really know that they are destined to end up together.

 

Perhaps the real reason we appreciated this movie so much, is the vibe of it. It is pure 90s in almost every sense, and we mean that only in a good way. It has a hazy and slightly fuzzy aesthetic that is a pleasure to watch. The dialogue is charmingly dated with expressions we are half tempted to reintroduce “What is your glitch?”, and the soundtrack is packed with songs that will make you feel nostalgic, even if you’ve never heard them before.

 

So if you are looking for a romantic movie this Valentine’s Day that comes with a little more edge and substance but is still an easy, enjoyable and comfortable watch, you could do a lot worse than to celebrate the 30th anniversary of this Generation X classic, and if you like our protagonists don’t know where you are going or what you are doing with life, don’t stress, but you should consider a career with Penta as an option.

 

Still credits: “ Ethan Hawke & Winona Ryder - Reality Bites ” uploaded to YouTube by salokin888

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