Provincetown International Film Festival, Part One

Last night during the fire alarm, when the two police officers came walking down the corridor, I had the sudden thought that they would turn out to be strippers. Because there’s a movie meme going around to that effect. Like in the ubiquitous trailer for “Magic Mike.” And in the opening night film of the Provincetown International Film Festival, which we had seen earlier in the evening, Leslye Headland’s debut “Bachelorette.”

The latter was much funnier. In fact I would say it was one of the funniest films I have seen this year. In it a trio of thirtyish high school classmates -- Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Gena (Lizzy Caplan), and Katie (Isla Fisher) -- get together to celebrate the impending nuptials of a fourth, Becky (Rebel Wilson). Becky, heavyset and unflashy, would seem the last person in this contingent to land a beau. Or so her more debauched and discontented fellow alumnae think. Resentfully, they spend the night before engaged in a wild saturnalia in Manhattan involving cocaine, chaotic sex, vomiting, and a torn dress that sends them into a race-against-the clock panic.Maybe it sounds a little familiar. Women in a wedding party behaving badly, kind of like men.  A compromised dress. There’s even a raunchy scene in an airplane.

However,  Headland adapted her film from her own play, which came out in 2010 and, I believe, before “Bridesmaids” was released. And in an indefinable way, the film is more affecting and funnier. The characters have more depth and pathos. The performances too, are more nuanced – Fisher’s in particular was hilarious and would be getting my early vote for Best Supporting Actress. This may due to its stage origins. Whatever the reason, it’s the third outstanding romantic comedy by a woman I’ve seen recently, along with Julie Delpy’s “Two Days in New York” and Sarah Polley’s “Take this Waltz.”

Anyway, during the Q & A after the screening in the packed Town Hall, Headland got maybe the highest praise possible for a transgressive comedy. The first person in the audience to speak was John Waters, and though it was hard to hear exactly what he said, from Headland’s reaction it was apparent he liked it.
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