Quick recap: Nola Darling is perfectly happy dating 3 guys at the same time but the guys turn it into a competition to be her boyfriend.
Fun (?) fact: The film was shot in 12 days and because of the tight budget, there were no retakes.
My thoughts: She’s Gotta Have It is my first Spike Lee film and I’m so glad I started with it. I expected some sort of comedic romance story about a girl having to choose between three guys but thank god it went so much deeper than that. For starters, it’s directed in the style of a documentary, although it’s never clear who is filming everyone’s confessions. Combined with a no name cast (besides Spike Lee), the whole saga seemed real and got me invested in the characters. She’s Gotta Have It is also wonderfully progressive, which is even more amazing considering it was made in 1986.
So, Nola is dating 3 guys- Jamie (sensitive jazzy guy), Mars (funny cool guy) and Greer (narcissist). The guys all know about each other, so it’s not like she is being deceitful in anyway. She is also upfront about wanting everything to be casual, going so far as to reprimand any of the guys who mistakenly say they are in love with her. Jamie, however, flat out asks her to make a choice about settling down and this ruins everything. I love how opposite this is compared to other rom-coms. Settling down makes Nola miserable and unhappy. She just wants to be herself and not tied down to anyone. Society still has an issue with this point so I’m kind of astounded by Spike Lee’s stance.
Despite all the evidence, a part of me wanted Nola to ‘settle down’ and choose Jamie. He was the obvious choice, of course: bringing her groceries when she was sick,staging an elaborate dance sequence for her birthday and helping to clean up after the Thanksgiving meal. He is your typical ‘nice guy’. He’s the kind of guy that sits around, not being able to fathom how come he doesn’t have girls falling at his feet because he is such a ‘nice guy’. Which is a dangerous thing to think about, because it breeds resentment and you know what resentment breeds, kids! That’s right, the Dark Side. Which Jamie manifests one evening by coming over and raping Nola. It’s horrible and ugly and utterly realistic because it makes her rethink her life and and decide he is the one she wants after all.
As I was about to write off this movie, it ends with Nola confessing to the camera that she in fact broke it off with Jamie soon after because she realized he wanted her to be something she wasn’t. I loved how nonchalant she was about the realization and how it drove home the point that she is who she is and there is nothing wrong with it. Perfection.
Final review: 5/5.
Up next: The Bridge on the River Kwai