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The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

What Happens Later was the perfect throwback to a classic Meg Ryan rom-com

The+movie+poster+for+What+Happens+Later+showcases+the+only+two+characters+of+the+film+sitting+on+the+airport+bench.
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The movie poster for What Happens Later showcases the only two characters of the film sitting on the airport bench.

Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, and You’ve Got Mail: they’re some of the 1990s’ most traditional staples of the rom-com genre. Even such titles as Top Gun and Anastasia, though not quite part of the genre, are known by millions across the world, and they’ve all got one common factor: Meg Ryan.

Having been raised on the timelessness of cinema ranging from the 1930s up until now, I know my movies. I grew up on Anastasia, and, as I got older, I was exposed to the aforementioned classic rom-com films, so I know the icon quite well. 

Ryan’s acting career, however, took an eight-year hiatus. I’d nearly forgotten about the possibility of the release of any new film featuring her. 

Regardless, the film made me feel like I was watching Sleepless in Seattle or When Harry Met Sally, and not just because of Meg Ryan.

That is, until the release of What Happens Later

Truthfully, I hadn’t even heard of the film until the day I saw it. My mom asked me if I wanted to go to a movie, and, as I tend to blindly trust my mom’s instinct about movies, I went with no prior knowledge of the plot.

In What Happens Later, Ryan stars as a magical thinker named Willa who encounters an anxious past lover, Bill (David Duchovny), in an airport. As they initially try to diffuse the tension of the situation, they recall the reasons why they both fell in and out of love all those years before. When their flights are both delayed indefinitely due to a snowstorm, they are forced to spend that time together. 

Directed by Ryan, the film is an interesting take on the classic “two ex-lovers find each other after years” concept. While there are, of course, people passing in the background of the movie, the only names in the credits are those of Ryan, Duchovny, and the airport voice. 

While I do enjoy the idea of two main characters being the only two characters, it was almost more fever-dream-ish than I’d like. In some scenes, the two would speak to each other, but the airport intercom would respond as if it were a part of the conversation. The voice has no other significance aside from the occasional updates in regards to the new takeoff times of their planes, but its interjections into the conversations between Willa and Bill threw me off from the very beginning. 

Even without having acted in eight years, Ryan has maintained her original style. This film felt like watching her in one of her classics but with modernized technology and—albeit still vintage—clothing. Her acting was just as careless and enamored as ever, and I respect her for holding strong to that over the years.

Duchovny’s performance was amazingly done, as well. Truthfully, I hadn’t been exposed to Duchovny’s acting, but that was a moot point. There is such nuance in his acting—his face and his voice—that helps to express the specificity of certain aspects of his story that the audience likely wouldn’t have understood otherwise. The banter between the two is just like that of a failed romance with mutual respect for each other, and it was nothing short of entertaining to watch.

The film has received many many poor reviews, but I think people have failed to realize that the directorial and acting styles of Ryan are similar to those of the films she gained popularity from. Simply put, it’s very 1990s but with the technology of the modern era. While it’s not realistic acting, it’s rom-com acting, and that’s all that can really be expected from the former face of rom-coms.

The dialogue-heavy nature of the film is well done; it allows the audience to have a deeper understanding of the characters and the relationship they once had, but it also provides substance. I wouldn’t say, though, that it provides enough substance to make a great movie. 

It’s not a bad movie in the slightest; in fact, I enjoyed it a lot. It’s just a bit drawn out, and I think that it could have been made a bit more enjoyable for other viewers had there been more of an externalized storyline. 

Regardless, the film made me feel like I was watching Sleepless in Seattle or When Harry Met Sally, and not just because of Meg Ryan. It’s not a conventional 2023 romantic comedy film; it feels like a classic rom-com, and I give them all props for that.

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About the Contributor
Eva LaBeau, Publicity Managing Editor
Eva LaBeau is a senior entering her second year on The Central Trend. She takes on everything she does with great passion, specifically when relating to her hobbies and academics. Whenever she can, she writes or draws whatever is on her mind. Raised by an artist and an avid music fanatic, Eva listens to music and loves to create art of all forms every chance she gets. Realistically, anybody could likely say that her 340-hour (and still growing) primary playlist is one of the most convoluted out there. Aside from her art, Eva spends as much time as she can with her family and friends, and she never hesitates to let them know just how much she appreciates them. Being a part of the community housed in Room 139 will forever be an unmatched feeling to her, and she'll forever love the beautiful people she has met and continues to meet along her journey thus far. Hopefully, her senior year at FHC will be the best one yet, and she wouldn't want to take it on with any other people. Favorite color: sage green or warm tan Favorite mascara combo: L'Oreal Telescopic Lift in Blackest Black and Morphe Make It Big in Bold Black Car: 2012 Ford Escape named Harvey (Very) irrational fears: velvet, people taller than 6'7", 2-door cars, and bodybuilders, among others.

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