‘Reagan got shot!’
‘Not on my shift.’
Does anyone else out there have a favourite film? You know, the sort of film that you watch over and over again, which seems to define an entire genre for you, which you judge every other similar film against? Well, I know I certainly do. I honestly believe that The Bodyguard is the film which has most influenced my views and expectations of romance. No matter how many times I sit down to watch it, I still feel an irresistible urge to swoon at the part where Kevin Costner sweeps Whitney Houston into his arms and carries her away from danger. I should point out that I am a hardened cynic in matters of the heart, so clearly this film is dangerous stuff.
The Bodyguard is essentially a modern version of a fairytale romance where a beautiful damsel in distress (usually a princess) gets rescued from a nefarious villain by a handsome knight in shining armour. In this story, updated for the twentieth century, the damsel in distress is Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston), a successful singer/Hollywood actress. While Rachel is not a woman who swoons easily, she certainly knows how to act like a spoilt princess when it comes to her diva-like behaviour. Cast in the role of the knight, now a former CIA agent turned private bodyguard, Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) fulfils all of the requirements for a hero as set down by the smouldering Mr Darcy of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. He’s cold and detached, tormented by his past failures, but obviously a man of integrity and honour. The lead characters also follow that fine romantic tradition of mutual dislike with sexual attraction turning into friendship and then love as they get past their initial negative perceptions of each other. Obviously, Frank rescuing Rachel from danger forms an important stage in this transition from antagonistic boss and employee to romantic partners. Overall, this film ticks all of the check boxes required for a good old fashioned love story but, and this is the crucial part, it doesn’t have a stereotypical happy ending.
Aside from the romance, The Bodyguard has a great plot in terms of the balance between action, suspense and humour. From the very start, the audience is kept guessing about the would-be stalker/killer. There are a couple of great red herrings and if you haven’t seen the film before then the reveal should be a good surprise. If, like me, you have watched it loads of times, it’s still fun to look for the clues and the various ways in which the film misleads you. There is plenty of action with Frank Farmer showing how you don’t have to be a muscle-bound tough guy in order to handle yourself effectively in a fight. Leaping out of windows, gunfights and busts up with other security personnel all are used to good effect to show exactly why Farmer is considered the best in the protection industry. However, as a person who doesn’t particularly enjoy watching violence, I felt that there was one action scene, where Farmer beats up a random stranger in a hotel kitchen, which was gratuitous and unnecessary to the plot.
While I loved the lead characters Rachel and Frank, I felt that some of the other characters were significantly less developed over the course of the film. In particular, Rachel’s jealous sister Nicki (Michele Lamar Richards), who once had her own dreams of stardom, is more or less a stereotype of the embittered sibling. Another poorly developed character is Rachel’s publicist Sy Spector (Gary Kemp), who seems utterly self-centred and ruthless throughout the film with just a hint of redemption at the end. There are also some problems with the pacing. The film tends to lag in the middle as Rachel’s entourage move from one location to another to escape the escalating threat posed to her life. In contrast, the final showdown at the Oscars ceremony feels slightly rushed and it seems like there is very little time left over for the closing scenes of the film. As a viewer, I was left feeling slightly dissatisfied as you never really find out what happened in the aftermath of the Oscars ceremony and it does feel like that would have a valuable opportunity to further explore the characters and their relationships.
As I said before, this film does not have the happily ever after of a fairytale and to be honest I can never make up my mind about whether this is a good thing or not. On the one hand, it adds a certain bittersweet element to the romance and in the context of both the situation and the characters, it feels very realistic. On the other hand, as a soppy romantic I just want Frank and Rachel to be together in happy and loving relationship. I guess that’s what fanfiction is for! Overall, despite its flaws, I still think that The Bodyguard is a fantastic film, a romantic classic which stands the test of time. Do feel free to get touch with us and let us know your favourite romantic film!
I would give this film three out of five, because of the violence and issues with pacing.
Red Hamilton (seriously, who wouldn’t swoon at Kevin Costner?)