Toxic friendship at its most unhinged.

By Isabel Jones
Updated May 20, 2020 @ 1:00 pm
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Credit: Wild Ocean/Kobal/Shutterstock

I’ve seen Something Borrowed more times than I’d care to admit. When it comes to art, I think quality can be subjective, but I also think it’s fair to call the adaptation of Emily Giffin’s 2004 novel, which Entertainment Weekly once described as a “soul-sucking romantic comedy,” what it is: bad. At least half the actors are pretty clearly miscast (sorry, John Krasinski), the “love interest” is woefully uncharismatic, and, worst of all, the movie doesn’t really seem to understand the message it’s conveying. But all said, I will continue to re-watch Something Borrowed every year or so, for one reason only: the friendship at its core. (And OK, yes, the Hamptons scenes do feel aspirational.)

Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Darcy (Kate Hudson) have been best friends since childhood. But everything we see on screen makes it clear that they are wildly mismatched, or, rather, that Darcy is a raging narcissist. It’s not subtle. Darcy makes everything about herself, even when it’s under the guise of congratulation (“Happy 30th — so happy it’s not me yet!”). Still, both women cling to this ideal of their best-friendship. The movie may in fact boast the highest usage of the term “best friend” outside of a Queen song. The plot, of course, thickens when Rachel sleeps with Darcy’s fiancé, the aforementioned charisma-devoid lawyer bro Dax (Colin Egglesfield). I’m not typically a proponent of adultery, but Darcy is so patently unlikable that it’s hard not to root for the betrayal. In one of the rare meaningful lines from Rachel’s friend Ethan (Krasinski), he tells her “If the roles were reversed, Darcy wouldn’t even hesitate,” and it’s hard not to agree. Rachel and Dax continue to cheat, and Darcy continues to prioritize herself in every situation. And at first, it seems like Something Borrowed is in on the joke — ah, this is toxic — but then something strange happens … Rachel and Darcy dance.

A film that had maintained its essential ridiculousness for the past 70-ish minutes descends into pure chaos as Darcy invites herself over to Rachel’s apartment and suggests they revisit a dance routine to Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” that they choreographed in the sixth grade. First, let me note that Darcy and Rachel are pretty much wearing the same outfit: black V-neck, cropped drawstring pajama bottoms, low ponytail. Second, this strangely mesmerizing dance, which was presumably choreographed nearly 20 years prior, is like, really tight? Have they been practicing?? Is this what grown women who routinely have sleepovers do??? This bizarre sequence marks the first time in the movie that Rachel and Darcy legitimately seem like friends, and appear genuinely happy to be spending time together. The purity of this moment is soon overwritten by a melancholic slow-motion fadeout. Their friendship is real, a producer appears to be whispering offscreen.

It’s overdramatized, sure, but one of the reasons I keep coming back to this movie is that to me, this friendship does feel real — too real. It’s upsetting to see a “best friend” treat someone the way Darcy treats Rachel, but a lot of us have been the quiet receptacle for that sort of take-no-prisoners narcissism, resigned to the Judy Greer role in a never-ending movie in which our friend is always the title lead. I’ve been the Rachel to a Darcy or two (sans the boyfriend-poaching element of the dynamic — on my end, at least), and every time I mentally decided to end the friendship, something would remind me of why I stuck around for so long: The fun! The history! Who else will keep you out til 3 a.m. on a Thursday (to flirt with their favorite bartender)?? Who else remembers the single line you had in your high school musical or the night of your first kiss? Darcy and Rachel’s strange “Push It” ritual is, to me, the encapsulation of that toxic rodeo. It’s that moment of redemption which somehow eclipses a timeline of emotional wreckage.

By the end of the movie (spoiler alert), Dax has called off the wedding and Darcy has learned about the affair. The long-decaying friendship is finally dead, but on Darcy’s terms, of course. The final scene flashes forward two months when Rachel and Darcy run into each other on the street. Still, the old dynamic returns. “You were always jealous of me,” Darcy tells Rachel, and Rachel simply agrees. Just when you think the film is finally on your side and justice has been served in this chaotic romantic comedy universe, Rachel says something that makes you (well, me) cringe every time: “I miss you, every day.” You miss your guest arc on The Darcy Show — really, do you?? “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life,” Darcy says, as much to her former friend as to herself. And the dance goes on.

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