Something Borrowed is built around a love triangle. Triangles tend to make for compelling stories, because the conflict necessarily means that love will bloom at the expense of another person’s potential happiness. But they can only really work when all three corners of the triangle are worth pursuing. And this is where Something Borrowed falters. Though it has a couple of interesting wrinkles, the film does itself a disservice by making one of these corners an unlikable caricature, making the choice feel like a long-delayed foregone conclusion.
Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Darcy (Kate Hudson) have been best friends since childhood. Darcy is about to get married to Dex (Colin Egglesfield), an old classmate of Rachel’s from law school. Rachel has always had a crush on Dex, and she accidentally lets that slip while out with him one night. It turns out that Dex feels the same way about Rachel, and the two end up sleeping together. The two want to explore their attraction to one another, but neither one is willing to hurt Darcy. As the nuptials draw near, the two dance around the subject, unable to deal with the potential consequences.
It’s an interesting setup, but the film doesn’t have enough courage to really make it work. Rather than let the two characters really deal with the guilt of having betrayed someone they love, it attempts to acquit them by turning the one betrayed into a monster. It never makes sense that Dex would want to stay with Darcy in the first place. It doesn’t even really make sense that Rachel is friends with Darcy at all. The film is built on the potential drama of these two people having to choose between love and the guilt of having hurt someone who doesn’t really deserve to be hurt. But the film didn’t make the choice hard at all.
Much of the film, then, feels like empty wheel spinning. The two obviously belong together, but they’re actively choosing to stay apart. The film feels unbearably long, much of the runtime consumed by the two main characters choosing to not do anything. The same beats are played over and over: Rachel and Dex have a romantic moment. They struggle with their own happiness. They don’t hear from each other after a while. Rachel’s best friend yells at her to do something. Rachel asserts herself somehow. Apologies. Romantic moment. And repeat.
The cast is littered with likable people. Ginnifer Goodwin is in danger of being typecast as a typical romcom lead, which can be profitable but dangerous. Goodwin appears to be a good deal more talented than her movies would suggest, and these roles do nothing to highlight her strengths. John Krasinski brings a lot of humanity to his role, and he really nails one of the film’s few emotional moments. Colin Egglesfield is fine as the apex of the triangle, but the character doesn’t do him any favors. The one aberration in this pattern of likability is Kate Hudson, who is getting more and more unwatchable with every picture.
Something Borrowed is yet another romantic comedy that doesn’t think much of its audience. Rather than let audiences deal with the messy and complicated emotions that emerge when two people’s love ends up hurting someone they care about, the film decides to dumb things down. Suddenly, the choice is obvious. The person they care about is a monster, and the two deserve to pursue their love without feeling terrible. Romantic films are about people fighting for their love, but Something Borrowed just doesn’t have much fight in it.