Pretty Woman (credit: Touchstone Pictures)

Review: Pretty Woman (1990) *****

A hot couple with great chemistry can take you great distances in romcom. Add a sympathetic take on sex work, tastefully spicy intimacy, and gorgeous costumes, and you’ve got my favorite romcom from when I was growing up. Pretty Woman formed all my preferences in romance.

This movie is ripe for a class- and capitalism-first analysis that I can’t do because it feels too personal, but I love that this is yet another entry into movies about “success in capitalism is hollow and i must turn from its excesses to find myself.”

The older brooding guy and *gorgeous* leggy redhead were surely my first non-Disney bisexual crush.

Despite a socioeconomic chasm and almost two decades between them, Edward and Vivian are one of the most equal-feeling couples of my recent romcom watches. Linus baffled Sabrina with manipulations, Higgins had zero interest in Eliza’s agency, but Edward and Vivian always communicate to get on the same page.

These two have a more positive relationship than most employers and employees, but Pretty Woman also touches on the less-glossy aspects of sex work, like physical abuse, drug addiction, exploitation by pimps, and more – primarily through dialogue. They could have chosen to keep it shallower yet in support of the fairytale Vivian wants, but I think it’s a tasteful balance of reality versus romantic fantasy.

The original screenplay was far severer, and didn’t end with a happily ever after. I love breaking tropes. But we truly do not have enough gorgeous, vulnerable endings as we see in this movie, where our lovers (parted as friends) reunite at the cost of Edward braving his fear of heights. A little bit.

I’m genuinely happy to see these people come back together and ride off into the Sunset Boulevard. This movie is exactly as warm as it needs to be.

Image credit: Touchstone Pictures

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