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Legally Blonde

August 10, 2020

Legally Blonde (2001)
Director: Robert Luketic
Actors: Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair

The Everlasting Sunshine of 'Legally Blonde'

Synopsis: California sorority girl, Elle Wood (Reese Witherspoon), is dumped by her aspiring lawyer of a boyfriend for not matching the profile of a serious life partner for him. Chastened by the rejection and determined to win him back, Elle somehow manages to follow him to Harvard Law School and win a place on the course. Elle’s perspective and priorities however change over the course of the programme.

Review: It may be an unoriginal observation, but Legally Blonde really does intentionally or unintentionally (take your pick) take its cue from Amy Heckerling’s Clueless of six years’ previous in setting up this thesis of the seemingly dumb blonde who defies conventions to assert herself in the adult world. It’s like a Clueless of the Ivy League and law worlds in many respects, and if understood from that fairly fanciful, almost fablistic, perspective, it’s hard to begrudge the journey of feelgood fun and sly humour that the narrative takes you on. There’s also a not entirely unperceptive idea unearthed by Legally Blonde which posits that character, temperament and disposition – even more than pure educational attainment – are perhaps the greater indicators for aptitude in a profession. Elle’s assiduousness, for example, is ideally suited to practising law.

First and foremost though, Legally Blonde is a crowd-pleasing, girl’s own fantasia of self-empowerment. The cartoonish bubblegum aesthetic of the opening credits perfectly sets up this idea of Elle’s inculcation by superficiality and aesthetics, but also offers clues as to her professional potential as a woman of drive with a real details-oriented approach to life. Reese Witherspoon carries the film’s duality as both popcorn confection and crafty morality tale with her beaming presence and charisma that underlies a steely edge. The ensemble around Witherspoon also embellishes the colourful nature of the story, from Selma Blair’s excellent turn as Elle’s physical and temperamental foil, Vivian, to Oz Perkins as the socially awkward law student with some of the most expressively weird eyes I’ve seen in cinema. (August 2020)

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