Pretty Woman (1990) Directed by Garry Marshall. With Richard Gere and Julia Roberts.
It’s easy to form a cynical view about Garry Marshall’s Hollywood fantasy, Pretty Woman. A rich investment banker (Richard Gere), picks up a vulnerable prostitute (Julia Roberts) and pays her $3,000 to hang-out for a week while he oversees the final stages of a lucrative deal. Meanwhile, the pair hit it off and well, the rest is ‘rom-com’ history.
The truth is, this is a film that’s there to be shot at. It intertwines romance with status and power in a way that could easily make your stomach churn, were it not for two hugely enjoyable central performances and an overriding sense that it is trying to make you feel good.
As Vivian, Roberts became a mega-star with her animated, happy-go-lucky portrayal; tipping her cap to My Fair Lady along the way. The more unlikely elements might not be easy to ignore for some, but there is more to be gained from surrendering to its larger than life charms, and enjoying it as the modern-day fairytale that it is.
How you interpret certain scenes, very much depends on you. You can see Julia Roberts’ tears as she experiences her first opera as either; her becoming a better person because she has learned to appreciate the finer arts, or just the face value of her emotion, presumably connected to how she feels about Gere.
Given certain elements, it has become quite a divisive movie, but I found it a mostly agreeable slice of fanciful fluff, that is working overtime to make us smile. Sometimes, it’s OK to gloss over the reality and enjoy the escapism. Pretty Woman offers plenty of that. 4/5