My Life in Ruins

2009-08-03 10:24
 

What it’s about:

Georgia (Nia Vardalos) plays a disgruntled tour guide in Greece who has lost her 'kefi' (Greek word for 'spirit'). She embarks on a journey with a bus load of stereotypical tourists for a trip which begins badly but as we all know will end well. She finds love and her fellow companions sort out their issues so that by the end, everyone is friends.

What we thought of it:


Let's just get the inevitable comparison to My Big Fat Greek Wedding out of the way. When your debut as a writer and an actress is so successful that the film becomes known as ‘one of the highest grossing romantic comedies of all time’, audiences are going to be scrutinising any subsequent offerings very very closely.

Standing alone, My Life In Ruins is a sweet comedy about finding joy in life and being open to new experiences. It’s feel-good and predictable, but then that is a trademark of the genre. The sugar-coated journey of self-discovery is palatable but often unrealistic. It could survive were it independent of such a formidable ‘big sister’, but it's not, and doesn't stand up to the inventiveness of Wedding.

Vardalos’ Georgia complains and whines far too often. Her development as a character is stunted and obvious. Granted, it is a different role, but the earthy and sassy quality we fell in love with in her Toula character is lacking. She presents here as an annoyed and uptight tour guide who suddenly does a 360 to become the belle of the ball, filled with the joys of life.

Richard Dreyfuss’ performance as Irv Gordon, the wise elder in the group, is commendable. His guidance in helping Georgia find her ‘kefi’ sparks of the quality he revealed in Mr Holland’s Opus. His character is real and he plays it with a pathos not reeking of sentimentality, but rather a genuine acceptance that the dusk of his life is at hand.

The humour is refreshing as it doesn’t disintegrate into obsene bathroom or bedroom antics. It does rest heavily on the stereotyping of the tourism culture, though, and at times it falls flat. The uptight British family with the apathetic daughter, the brash, in your face Americans, the hot Spanish girls and the businessman tied to his Blackberry. But in the wake of contreversial Bruno, this boxing is hardly offensive.

The ruins and scenery of Greece provide a beautiful and majestic backdrop to the film. It may even be that at times, when the plot is running thin, they take centre stage. My Life In Ruins is light and amusing. See it if you must, but a dusting off and a viewing of the My Big Fat Greek Wedding DVD may prove more fulfilling.


What to do after you’ve had your Big Fat Greek Wedding? Nia Vardalos sticks to her winning formula as a tour guide who's lost her 'kefi'.

Charnie 2009/08/03 3:31 PM
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I saw it yesterday, and I agree, "see it if you must" Funny at times, but not as good as My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
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