Live by Night
The key question behind Live by Night isn’t so much “Why did they bother?” as “What went wrong?”
Not a whole heck of a lot happens in "Romantic Comedy," but it happens so charmingly, and with such quick spirit and wit, that it's enough. This is the kind of movie Hollywood used to make to exploit the sheer charm of its great stars -- performers like Cary Grant or Katharine Hepburn, who were so wonderful to watch that all you had to do was find something for them to say.
The stars this time are Dudley Moore and Mary Steenburgen. Together, they have the sort of chemistry that might make any dialog work, and certainly works in Bernard Slade's story about a couple of playwrights who collaborate for years and years before they find the courage to finally come right out and kiss each other. This sort of chemistry is not always inevitable.
In "Six Weeks," for example, Dudley Moore did not have it with Mary Tyler Moore, and in "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy," Steenburgen and Woody Allen were unable to generate much more electricity than the fireflies drifting through.
But here, in a predictable story with one easily anticipated development after another, everything comes alive because Steenburgen and Moore are having so much fun with each other. The fun becomes almost a tangible thing; you can see on the screen that they like each other, and so everything, even the scenes where each line seems obvious, becomes fun. Maybe it works because their characters know the lines are obvious, too, and take delight in toying with the situations.