Hopeless Romantic wants to subvert the romcom

The anthology, shooting in Halifax now, aims to challenge the predictable plotlines of romantic comedies.

click to enlarge Megan Wennberg  is one of six directors working on Hopeless Romantic. - CLAIRE FRASER
Megan Wennberg is one of six directors working on Hopeless Romantic.

A wedding is taking place on a golden fall afternoon at The Waegwoltic's clubhouse in the south end. Well-dressed attendees laugh, dine and celebrate the union of a young couple—all beneath the intimate glow of heavy lighting equipment and high-definition cameras. Overlooking this showbiz ceremony isn't a justice of the peace, but producer Latonia Hartery. She's watching her vision for Hopeless Romantic, a romantic comedy featuring six women in the director's chair (and a little help from Margaret Atwood), unfold.

"If you look at many of the people who direct romantic comedies, a lot of those people are men," Hartery says. "We asked ourselves, 'What would women say love and relationships are like for them?' I can guarantee it's quite unlike most romantic comedies."

The anthology stars Lynda Boyd (Republic of Doyle) as Anna, a recently widowed cardiologist struggling with her conflicting attraction to her dying husband's physiotherapist. While attending a wedding, she bonds with six women who share their unique love stories in an epic landscape of partners, emotions, risks and payoffs which challenge the long-held belief that we all have one ideal partner.

Shooting began in late October and featured ornate wedding decor, a Hopeless Romantic cake and a scene rarely seen in the film world: A crew comprised mostly of women, 54 percent to be exact. "I made sure our set photographer captured that," says Hartery. "I don't think I've ever been on a set where there's that many women around the monitors."

Hartery says the evolution of storytelling depends on more women stepping behind the scenes as directors, writers and producers to offer their unique perspective; something clearly not lacking in this film. The project features a team of east coast directors: Megan Wennberg, Stephanie Clattenburg, Deanne Foley, Ruth Lawrence, Martine Blue and Hartery herself. Topping off the list of talent is Margaret Atwood, serving as a creative consultant—she thinks everything is going in a "really nice direction."

Hopeless Romantic wraps Halifax production on November 27 with post to take place in St. John's. Upon its theatrical release, planned for fall 2018, Hartery hopes the film makes audiences of all demographics laugh out loud while seeing the complexities of women's romantic perspectives.

"It's made by women, but not for women only," says Hartery. "More than anything, I want people to see the movie and enjoy it as a form of entertainment that's revelatory and enjoyable."

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