The film is replete with the hallmarks of a comedy of errors: absurdity, slapstick, sexual tension and, of course, Shakespearian references.
Imagine the scream I scrumpt when I found out that Anyone But You took a page off of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Not only is it my favorite Shakespeare play, it also defines the enemies-to-lovers trope.
Yes, I believe this trope had its humble beginnings in Stratford-Upon-Avon, and I have the bard Will to thank. However, in the year of our Lord 2024, I didn’t know that I had another Will to be grateful for: Will Gluck, the film’s director.
The meet-cute between the two protagonists is nothing short of brilliant—as is the witty banter sprinkled throughout the story.
Anyone But You tells the story of Ben and Bea, and how a splendid first date turns sour because of a misunderstanding. Their interactions over the years only lead to acrimony until a wedding brings them together, much to their mutual chagrin, and they fake a relationship to appease their families and friends.
Unlike the several adaptations of Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing rarely gets a pass for a story. The only standout reenactments that have my heart are the West End play in 2011 starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate, and Joss Whedon’s modern spin in 2012 starring Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker. Otherwise, it is tossed aside, even if the material is criminally underrated and brimming with story.
Following the much-talked chemistry between Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney, I felt like it overshadowed so much of its potential. Maybe it’s the Shakespeare enthusiast in me, but I think the film would have won people’s hearts if it was marketed as either an enemies-to-lovers film or Much Ado’s direct descendant. Instead, the stories took Powell’s and Sweeney’s numerous roadshow interactions and turned them into the pre-release talking point. Yes, it intrigued people, but I think the marketing missed the mark here.
There is a line that goes, “There is a fine line between love and hate.” Both leads must be able to display both emotions and teeter on the line itself. It is the challenge most enemies-to-lovers films face, and probably the reason why Much Ado is passed over. But alas, rejoice. Powell and Sweeney not only met my expectations, but they also knocked my expectations out of the park.
The meet-cute between the two in the film is nothing short of brilliant—as is the witty banter sprinkled throughout the story. While my expectations leaned towards sex comedy thriller (based on the marketing strategy), I’m glad they played around more with the comedy of errors, which Much Ado was rooted in. It was complete with the absurdity and silliness of plotting family members, slapstick comedy, cities as secondary characters, sexual tension, and Shakespearian references!
I was so in love with the way Gluck handled the story. It was done with a modern yet respectable hand, and I loved that it was a character-driven story. Each one played their role to a tee. GaTa played the quirky best man/friend Pete (based on Don Pedro) so hilariously, and I love that they added a more inclusive approach to the love story of Hero and Claudio. The lines were delivered and written so brilliantly.
“It was the first time I felt fire and I had to blow it out.”
The film, though a typical romantic comedy, was also not afraid to subvert the genre. I loved Halle’s (Hadley Robinson) line where she goes, “I feel like we are all a part of a play,” obviously nodding to its roots and Ben’s complaint about how the intentional overhearing and scheming has led to complications.
It also had a typical but well-deserved ending and brought tears to my eyes. The lines that Powell had were simple yet impactful, and Sweeney’s way of receiving the lines was a beautiful complement.
Long story short—do NOT miss this film at all. The story will blow you away and surprise you. For Shakespearean fans, this is heaven. Watch out for the subtle quotes and references peppered throughout. It’ll have you squealing in your seat—not to mention, Glen Powell too.