Sunday, July 31, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

Mills and Boon romance novels are big business and are enduringly popular. Why is that and who reads them? Guilty Pleasures explores those questions by making a film that meets three readers (all women) and an author and a cover photo model (both men) and examines them and their relationships in a gentle and good-humoured way.

Hiroko, the first of our readers, lives in Japan with her husband and two young sons.Her husband seems like a perfectly nice guy who admits to not being that demonstrative or romantic and seems comfortable with his wife reading novels as compensation. Hiroko moves on from reading and takes ballroom dancing lessons to increase the romance and glamour levels in her life.

Shumita lives in Delhi and she separated from her husband five years ago, but seems unable to let go. This is a pity, because he's clearly a self-centred bastard and she should move on.

Shirley lives in Blackpool and her husband is the most romantic of the three, (and a definite improvement on her previous abusive partner) but he's bipolar and so she has to live with his regular periods of gloom. He, too, is unperturbed by his wife reading romance novels.

Stephen the cover model is included (I think) to remind readers and watchers to be careful what they wish for. Beautiful men with perfectly sculpted bodies don't get that way without hard work and this probably means that they're obsessed diet, exercise and themselves which is not really ideal romantic hero.

And then we have Roger the author, who prefers his own company. We learn that most Mills and Boon authors are older people and that writing romance novels is a learned craft and not a reflection of the writer's views or experience.

Now, in case you're thinking this all sounds rather dysfunctional, Hiroko and her husband come to the rescue. Hiroko wants to move onto competitive ballroom dnacing and finds that having her dance teacher as a partner will be very expensive. So she persuades her husband to learn to dance. He is surprisingly enthusiastic and they go on to win a competition. And if that's not a dream come true, I'm not sure what is.

I'm not sure if Guilty Pleasures is really trying to make a point or just give us an interesting overview of the genre. The featured characters are interesting enough for that not to matter particularly.

The last word should go to Hiroko's husband; "I have to be careful not to polish myself too much, otherwise I'll become attractive to other women and my wife will suffer. So I have to aim for just the right level of improvement" Very considerate!

Anne's rating 3/5

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