ONE STAR - DEGRADING
It is hard to imagine people living at such moral and relational ignorance as those portrayed in “Someone Like You.”
Based on the novel “Animal Husbandry” by Laura Zigman, the film describes a young woman who convinces herself that men are like bulls who never visit the same cow twice. Though this is not true of cattle, the film nevertheless asserts that it is true of men. Or at least that is what the leading character believes.
The beautiful young woman who has been jilted is Jane Goodale (Ashley Judd). An intelligent, successful talent scout of a television talk show, Jane falls madly for her new executive producer Ray Brown (Greg Kinnear) and engages in an immediately consummated union. But shortly after their passionate relationship begins, Ray loses interest in Jane and avoids her. She decides this is an example of the “old cow theory.” He must have left her for a “new cow.”
The implications of such an assertion are made clear later in the film when Jane tells her co-worker Eddie (Hugh Jackman) that she has to believe this because it is easier to believe all men want new partners rather than to believe that men only get bored and leave her.
Though this is a helpful explanation for why Jane would adopt such a naive belief system to explain her pain, the film comes to this conclusion only after Jane has written a syndicated column in 300 newspapers and become an international sensation by spouting this theory about relationships to the world.
Though this is meant as a spoof of the inane advice given in men’s and women’s magazines, the film is in fact an example of the same level of relational frivolity.
Jane doesn’t begin to understand what makes a relationship real and fulfilling. Turning to animals to get guidance, or to newspaper and magazine articles for answers, Jane lives in a world devoid of moral or relational depth. She suffers unnecessarily because of this.
Spiritual guidance that fulfills our souls comes from the Scriptures which have proven themselves to be true over generations and cultures. When it is only seen as a passionate hello which could lead to “playing house,” as Jane’s friend called it, then it weakens the bonding power and relational fulfillment sex provides within a life-long, committed, married relationship.
In Jane’s life and in the life of her best friend, Liz (Mansa Tomei), guidance is found wherever and from whomever they can get it: magazines, television, nature shows. It has no validity and only proves itself to be harmful instead. The pain projected on the screen is all the more uncomfortable because it is so unnecessary.
Though much of the material is undoubtedly presented as comedy, the degradation shown to men in particular and all of us in general is troublesome. The end of the film does present a truly faithful and committed man in the form of her sister’s husband, but Jane’s choice leaves us with concern for her well-being and life.
Guidance for living fulfilled and satisfied lives available to us, but we will not find it in the men’s or women’s magazines in our grocery stores. Instead, guidance in living lives of love is best found in our communities of faith where it has been tested and proven over centuries of life.