An English Duke (Hugh Jackman) from 1876 is by accident transported into modern day New York where he falls in love with an ambitious and cynical advertising executive Kate (Meg Ryan)..
I’ve been mocking my sister for loving this film for the longest of times. I never quite understood why she liked it, to me it was just a really bad romantic comedy with maybe handsome Hugh Jackman but that was about it. And I always suspected that was the only reason she liked it – Hugh in the period clothes. Cause let’s face it, he’s hot and me and my sis have always had a thing for some elegant period clothing (certain eras only – no tights and wigs, please).
The one thing that got stuck for me though was New York in this film.
You know how we all travel places that we know from films which makes it all the more exciting? Well, Kate & Leopold has oddly been one of the New York films for me. And so when I found it on the TV guide the other night, I was eager to watch it again after many many years, my only expectation being a little bit of the NYC magic which can never hurt (especially when you find yourself missing it like crazy) and secretly laughing at my sis once again.
However, what I got was much more than a little bit of much-needed NYC daydream. In fact, I might have seen the film with my sister’s eyes for the very first time. Or I was just paying much more attention… Whatever it was, I owe a huge apology to my sis.
Don’t get me wrong – I still think the film is bad, however there is a lot of wisdom hidden underneath the cheesy romance.
And if you’re a guy, please do us all a favor and watch this film! It might teach you quite a few lessons on how to actually court your lady. Yes. Court. I said it.
As a woman of almost thirty years old, who’s met her share of men – men of all sorts, ages and races, and who’s been around guys hitting on her almost constantly at one point, so certain of themselves, yet behaving in a way that had absolutely no chance of success with me which they apparently couldn’t quite understand, I’d like to quote Leopold and say:
Women respond to sincerity. No-one wants to be romanced by a buffoon.
Oh my gosh, yes! Take that as lesson number one. We don’t like guys playing a farce all the time. Be sincere. Be polite. Make us laugh, but you have to be able to be serious, too. Or sincere is probably much better choice of words, indeed.
If you’re being a buffoon all the time, you will only ever be categorized as a friend – and that’s if you’re lucky. But definitely not a love interest. You can even get labeled as quite annoying.
Just be yourself! And if being yourself means being the overly self-confident asshole who thinks he can have you just like that… well then, I’m honestly sorry for you, but please move on and learn your manners first.
Just look at Patrice. The girl, Kate’s brother Charlie is so hopelessly and unsuccessfully trying to impress.. The moment he takes Leopold’s advice to heart and tells her exactly what Leopold suggests (even if feeling like a total fool), Patrice is won over. Maybe not forever after yet, but he definitely gets his shot with her. Why? Because he’s sincere, he says what he actually feels without playing any stupid games. He makes himself vulnerable. And we love that.
This parallel is one of the most genius things about the film – not only you have the guy from another century here, with his old-fashioned ways, but they are put into direct contrast while Leopold teaches Charlie how to court a lady by improving his ridiculous trying-to-impress-her-and-being-a-bafoon ways – an approach vastly popular nowadays. It’s sort of like ‘before and after’ effect.
Honestly.. don’t you think there’s something wrong about today’s ways of courtship?… If you can even call it that way..
Another fantastic example is when Leopold and Charlie interrupt Kate’s and JJ’s (Kate’s boss) dinner.
JJ tries to impress Kate in front of Leopold by his knowledge of the opera Boheme, thanks to which he claims to have learned French. This claim however, is immediately put to test by Leopold who recites a poem in French and JJ, as it turns out, has no idea what he said. As Leopold is leaving few minutes later, he decides to correct all JJ’s errors:
By the way. There is no ‘Andre’ in Boheme. It’s Rodolfo. And though it takes place in France, it is rarely played in French as it is written in Italian. Goodnight, Kate.
OMG, I wish every JJ out there would be confronted by a Leopold at least once in their lives!
Honestly guys, stop trying to impress us! Stop acting on your ego all the time.. Self-confidence is sexy, but only to a certain point.. And please just don’t lie, don’t make things up.
We need our men to be real, polite… attentive. Sincere. We need men who make us feel like a lady. Gentlemen.
Act a little bit like Leopold, and you will see the shift immediately. You might even get the girl you never thought you could!
Why? Because treating us like a lady, is completely irresistible, especially because it is so damn rare these days. And I don’t mean just holding the door for us (although that’s of course part of it) but all the little things.. all the little details… like not buying just some flowers, give it a little thought.. just… watch Leopold and learn.
And you know what’s the one habit I’d like to see back?
We are not courting, Kate. If we were, as a man of honour, I would have informed you of my intentions in writing.
A man of honour! Ah! I wish we had men of honour these days and I wish they would inform us of their intentions lol. I mean seriously, wouldn’t it make life so much easier?! 😀 It would certainly save us a lot of time and energy and a lot of misunderstandings and confusion and perhaps quite a few awkward situations. Certainly to me! And talking of nowadays – even a text would do! 😀
Kate & Leopold truly opens up a lot of questions about our romantic relationships.
Not so long ago, I would have agreed with Kate:
Maybe that whole love thing is just a grown-up version of Santa Claus; just a myth we’ve been fed since childhood. So, we keep buying magazines, joining clubs, and doing therapy and watching movies with hit pop songs played over love montages all in a pathetic attempt to explain why our love Santa keeps getting caught in the chimney.
Or perhaps, some of us are just not good with men…? I certainly used to think so. But you know what? I think Leopold is right – if you feel that way, you simply haven’t found the right one yet. Honestly, I speak from my own experience. Cause if the person is right for you, everything will just fall into place. Easily.
There truly is one very exceptional thing about Kate & Leopold and that’s the script. There’s so much wisdom within those lines. And not just about relationships. It really makes you stop and wonder what the hell has happened with our world and the way we treat each other, or even ourselves.
As Leopold says:
What has happened to the world? You have every convenience and comfort, yet no time for integrity.
So damn true.
We can’t even sit down and appreciate our food.
Where I come from the meal is the result of reflection and study. Menus are prepared in advance, timed to perfection. It is said that without the culinary arts, the crudeness of reality would be unbearable.
Remember this next time you make yourself some quick fix which you’ll eat up in a hurry with your mind already focused on something else.
Yes, the film is not all about relationships, though it definitely is the main topic.
It’s actually been very surprising to me to find out that the authors of both the script and the story that it’s based on are men. Does it mean, there are still men like Leopold…? Men who know good manners, men who can see how wrong this whole ‘courtship’ thing has become..? Oh, I certainly hope so.
I hope there are still gentlemen among guys, as well as ladies among women.
Though if a guy comes to you claiming he’s a gentleman, don’t be quick to believe him. Let his actions speak for him. After all, would a true gentleman be pointing out his qualities like that to you? I don’t think so. A true gentleman is humble.
And talking of the many wisdom hidden in the script, not just the relationship related ones, let me finish with this one quote from Leopold:
The brave are simply those with the clearest vision of what is before them – glory and danger alike – and, notwithstanding, go out to meet it.
With that said – go and watch Kate & Leopold. It can’t hurt 😉