3 Stars (15) James L. Brooks, 131 mins. Starring: Albert Brooks, Holly Hunter, William Hurt, Robert Prosky, Lois Chiles, Joan Cusack, Jack Nicholson.
Broadcast News (1987) is a film in two halves: a quirky office rom-com and a journalism drama exploring the commercialisation of news.
On one hand, you’ve got a love triangle between an attractive but dim news-anchor, Tom Grunick (William Hurt), a serious reporter, sadly friend-zoned, Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks) and the work-obsessed Jane Craig (Holly Hunter).
This alone works fine, the rom-com tropes are there – comedic scene stealers, “I’m in love with you” revelations and the break-up fight – but it lacks the happy ending you’d expect.
Then on the other, you have a drama with a side of social commentary, depicting the deadlines, ethical lines and takes a stab at the emergence of soft-news infotainment that threatens the hard news culture, during the 80s.
They both work; just not together. The long-running time allows the love to get lost amongst the copy, making it more of a hit than a miss.
The film constantly jumps between the two genres, which lead me to spend most of the film asking where is the love? (I mean it’s described as a rom-com on its sleeve)
Despite the confusing parts, Holly Hunter’s characterisation as Jane proves to be a stellar performance.
Who doesn’t love an 80’s feminist who loves her work more than she ever could love a man?
Unfortunately, for writer and director James L. Brooks, his dance with blurring lines between genres has made him fall victim to the same trap as Jane.
“I’ve passed a line someplace. I am beginning to repel people I’m trying to seduce”.
If you’re looking for a rom-com, I wouldn’t put this high on your list of must-watches.
But if you’re looking for a journalism movie – and can ignore the love story – then I’d say it’s worth at least one viewing. Maybe two.