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How to be Single follows the kind of structure that I usually dislike (and disliked it again in this film) – the structure that has multiple disparate story lines loosely based around the same theme but involving a character that will intersect the different story threads from time to time. Kind of the same thing as Love, Actually or Valentine’s Day (I haven’t seen either of these movies but I know that’s how they are structured).
The main plot involves Alice (Dakota Johnson…most recently of Fifty Shades fame) who decides to go on a “break” from her boyfriend and then experiences all the stages of singledom. Helping her navigate the world of being single is Robin (Rebel Wilson). There are two other subplots involving another woman and a bartender and also Alice’s sister – neither of which I cared about. The subplot with the character Lucy is exasperatingly annoying.
Personal truth – I am single. I have been single for over 18 months and still show no interest in making a connection with someone new. I am Alice. Her awkwardness, her readiness to fall into relationships (and revisit unfulfilling ones – sinking into “d*cksand” as Robin puts it), and the fact she hadn’t spent any time “alone”. In the film, she reaches a realisation of her relationship mistakes when she starts to hook up with her ex, only to discover he’s still with his new partner and he’s only trying to get “closure” with her. The exact same thing happened to me. It leaves you feeling so very worthless.
But, there is an upside. The film takes a light-hearted view of being single. At first I thought this would be one of those plots where the girl dumps the guy then meets the “right one” and they all live happily ever after. But that doesn’t happen. Instead, she discovers it’s OK to be alone. I too have found that (though I have passed the point that Alice refers to in the movie when you become so entrenched in your ways and used to being alone that you can’t accept anyone else).
Rebel Wilson (who went to my school and it still trips me out) is hands-down brilliant in this. You could remove every other actor in this and it would still be as enjoyable. Everything she says is gold, her timing is on point, and her mannerisms are hysterical and engaging. Dakota Johnson is a wallflower (albeit a beautiful wallflower)…but its Leslie Mann (who plays Alice’s sister) that gets to me. She is in every movie and always playing the same character (neurotic, controlling 40-something woman who is freaking out about something). It’s getting tedious.
This isn’t going to be a film that you will revisit over and over again…or one that will be remembered beyond 2016…but, for any women who have been single, you’re likely to find some truths in this that may give you some comfort. Yep, it seems no matter who we are, we’re still all the same.
7 singles out of 10.