Life and fiction meld in “She Came to Me”

Published 11:59 am Monday, November 13, 2023

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This week at Tryon Theatre we have a unique, charming and curiously earnest film, “She Came to Me.” This film is billed as a romantic comedy, but to reduce its emotional and philosophical beats to merely comedy would be to do the film’s breadth a disservice. Rather, the film is what is known as a “dramedy,” a narrative wherein the dramatic and comedic elements are balanced in strength and presence. The film’s director and writer Rebecca Miller has blended these elements well in her story, which tells an interconnected trio of narratives, all set in New York City with an excellent cast of characters.

At the center of the cast is Peter Dinklage, who showcases even more of his range as a leading man, capable of charm, aloofness and passion. Dinklage plays a celebrated composer, Steven, who has fallen victim to writer’s block in his attempts to compose and stage a comeback opera. Steven is a brilliant mind, but like many possessing his talent, is plagued by the burdensome expectation of greatness. Amidst his creative malaise, Steven is encouraged by his wife Patricia, the excellently composed Anne Hathaway, to seek inspiration from the streets of the city and its varied citizens. This attempt to get Steven out of the house is well-intentioned but yields unexpectedly complicated results, both professionally and personally.

Patricia’s story takes great precedence in the plot too, with her own internal reckoning playing out through her relationships with her family and patients. Patricia is a therapist with an intense cleaning habit; two facts linked in her worldview, with her professional capacity allowing her to “scrub clean” the minds of her patients. In her home life, she is a supportive wife to Steven, but treats her spouse with almost paternal patience, lacking in intimacy and unintentionally pedantic.

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The other important characters in the narrative are all similarly defined with their own respective neuroses and exaggerated qualities, befitting of their artistic New York setting, and congruent with the operatic story being told.

The narrative, in a meta capacity, is composed in a rather operatic structure, reflecting the mental framework of Steven’s mind, one seeing the whole world through the lens of opera. The characters at play are not presented for the audience’s endorsement, but for the emotional arcs their interactions provide. The characters’ flaws are all as important to the story as their merits.

Ultimately, the story should make one feel a certain depth of emotion, but the film is not without the balance of laughter. Comedy, both intentional and ironic, is ever present, as with many great operas. We hope you will join us to see “She Came to Me” take to the stage!