Hey, it’s March. And this post was supposed to be up yesterday. Apologies.
Romantic mystery is a natural. Mystery has plenty of plot but not much room for character development; romance is all about character but has a tougher time with plot; marry the two and you’ve got a winner. Romantic suspense, woman-in-jeopardy, rom-crime, whatever you call it, this kind of story puts two people under a great deal of stress while they work together. If there’s one thing we learned doing rom-com, it’s that working together is a great way to build a relationship in a story, and working together under life-or-death circumstances only heightens that bond. Stress is great fuel for romance–that’s why there are so many office romances and war babies–because it provides one of the two basic emotions necessary for people to fall in love: pain. If you have a story where your protagonist isn’t sure that the love interest isn’t the guilty party, the stress is even more heightened (see Laura, Charade, Trenchcoat, The Big Easy . . . uh, see the movies we’re watching this month). The other emotion? Joy. The excitement of falling in love, the fun of flirting, the exhilaration of great sex . . . . A good romantic mystery has it all.
So why are they so hard to find? Once we’d identified our subgenre–a mystery with a subplot romance that is so strong it can’t be removed from the story without wrecking the primary mystery plot–we really had to scrounge to find films that were mysteries first with good romances second that didn’t have protagonists we wanted to strangle. Laura was a no-brainer for me–I’d read the book ages ago and loved it and the premise has tremendous juice–and Charade is one of the greatest romantic mysteries of all time. And The Big Easy . . . well, everybody should see “You’re luck’s about to change, cher” plus a truly good mystery plot (I think; it’s been awhile since I saw it and I’m a lot more critical these days). Then one more. I picked Trenchcoat because I’ve always loved it and because it has a mystery writer heroine; then I found out Roger Ebert called it one of the worst movies of all time. Lani and I will be watching it soon; if she’s with Roger, we may switch to To Catch A Thief which was fun. That’s two Cary Grant films, but if you’re going to wonder if the guy is going to kill you, it might as well be Grant.
So here’s the tentative schedule. Lani and I will be previewing Trenchcoat tomorrow night to see if it makes the cut so stay tuned, there may be some changes:
March 5: Laura
March 12: Charade
March 19: Trenchcoat (or To Catch A Thief)
March 26: The Big Easy