A Look Back: Green Card

“Green Card,” an early nineties released movie, is a romantic comedy directed by Peter Weir (“Dead Poets Society”) and like “DPS” also features a sensible, strait-laced protagonist who has his/her world shook up by a free spirit. It also boasts the most unromantic movie poster/VHS cover possible, which pictures Gerard Depardieu hoisting his co-star, Andie McDowell, over his shoulders in a way that was probably intended to be whimsical but just looks awkward to me. It’s more the way you’d carry a sack of fertilizer, rather than the woman of your dreams. Maybe they should have gone for a piggybacking pose, it certainly couldn’t have looked less uncomfortable.

Andie plays a young woman living solo in New York, who works for a non-profit that plants gardens for underprivileged children, something her boyfriend (Gregg Edelman) also participates in, even though he’s quickly revealed by the script to be a douche and never given any redeeming qualities after that. At the start of the movie, Andie has just found the perfect apartment to rent, complete with an amazing rooftop garden. Only problem is that she needs to be married in order to move there. So she winds up hooking up with Gerard, who needs a green card in order to stay in America. She first encounters him when he waits on her and her boyfriend in a café, and her boyfriend displays his true colors by getting Gerard fired. With not many prospects at the moment, Gerard agrees to the quid pro quo, and so the deception begins.

Surprisingly, Andie is less than charmed by Gerard, seeing him as boorish and uncultivated (it’s kind of original to have the American find the French character so), though he tries to win her over by bringing her goldfish for the rooftop garden and forcing Gregg to leave when he gets a little too amorous. They begin the task of trying to get to know each other, even down to the color of the toothbrush each uses, but are hampered by the fact that well, this is a romantic comedy, so it’s requisite that the two characters who are destined to wind up together bicker for a particular period of time first. They are also daunted by the massiveness of the task, since the immigration services department is due to make a visit in a few days to check and see that everything is in order.

Eventually, Andie and Gerard get fired up by the prospect of passing as man and wife, and they take a ton of selfies, using different props, to stick in a photo album and make it appear that they’ve been together a good long time. At the end, Gerard puts on overalls and poses with a hammer, as the “handyman,” and it is then that the doorbell rings, and it is Andie’s parents dropping by. They decide to stick with the handyman fiction, which is a bad idea because at one point, Gerard wanders into the room and announces in heavily accented English that he “really needs a screw.” He fools no one, but both parents are inexplicably charmed, which might have worked in Gerard’s favor, except Andie’s character still hasn’t emerged fully from her adolescent rebellion phase, so she continues to refuse to realize that Gerard is perfect for her.

When a couple visits from the immigration services department to quiz Andie and Gerard, they are fairly pleasant, but do ask some probing questions as to why Gerard was out of the country, and “Just as a matter of curiosity, how did you two meet?” Answer: “We sort of…crashed.” Having passed Test One, they are given a time to show up for a hardcore interview in yet another few days. But not before, Andie brings Gerard to a dinner party from whose hosts she hopes to extract funds to benefit her nonprofit. This time Gerard admits to being a composer (partly true) and winds up improvising a piece so touching, the funds start to flow. Of course, as per romantic movie law, the only way a woman can truly realize that she loves a man is when he’s about to leave for good, but don’t worry, this scene is coming up.

To help round out the quota of wacky high jinks, both wake up late for their final interview, and have to run. (Andie is wearing heels, and of course, the only way a female so shod in a movie can run, is to be pulled along by the hand of a guy.) It turns out there is a traffic jam, so they have to ditch the cab, and to the strains of Enya, they just make it. After an interrogation which probably not even most spouses could successfully pass without cramming, things go wrong, but the movie ends on an optimistic note. At any rate, if there was a sequel, Andie and Gerard now have an even better story of how they wound up together.

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