The Film: The Proposal (Lieberman et al., 2009)
The Proposal is a 2009 romantic comedy directed by Anne Fletcher for the California-based film production and distribution house, Touchstone Pictures. The story revolves around a talented book publisher, named Margaret Tate (portrayed by Sandra Bullock), who heads the fictional publishing firm Ruick & Hunt. Margaret is depicted as an emotionally distant person from the start. Around five minutes into the movie, for instance, employees at Ruick & Hunt are seen running frantically around the offices as soon as one of them sends an internal message stating, “It is here.” This clearly shows just how much she is both feared and detested.
The story soon takes a different turn when Margaret is informed of some grave problems with her immigration status, which means that she must be deported back to her native country, Canada, effectively ending her lucrative career as the editor-in-chief of Ruick & Hunt Publishing. It is here that she hatches what appears to be the perfect plan and propositions her assistant, Andrew Paxton (portrayed by Ryan Reynolds), to marry her until the immigration problem is resolved. Andrew goes along with the plan after he secures a big promotion. Things eventually change and what was at the beginning a relationship of convenience becomes real; the couple falls in love and gets engaged.
The Star and the Portrayal: Sandra Bullock as “Margaret Tate”
Sandra Bullock is inarguably one of the greatest film stars in the world, for which she has the accolades to show. At 48 years of age, she now stands at 5 feet, 7 inches (5’7”) and weighs 118 pounds (lbs). Her roles, though diverse in their nature, have always befitted her knack for visual comedy. She captures her audiences with her physical presence on the set and on-screen coupled with her ability to bring to life a character’s emotions and attitudes through dialogue and posture. In essence, she appears to always be in control of her entire body, which proves to be a major asset for her during her performance and production.
Nevertheless, her being cast as Margaret Tate was, in my opinion, a bit misplaced. The character is essentially meant to be cold and distant, which is completely unnatural for Sandra Bullock. She is always the character that brings comic relief in a film. In The proposal, however, she was supposed to portray a detestable, mean character, which she did not do all that well. Her bright and welcoming countenance was a sure give away; she seemed to be portraying a kind, good-hearted but greatly misunderstood character. Towards the end, though, she recaptured her natural charm and brought to life the sensitive, down-to-earth, loving but somewhat clumsy, side of Margaret Tate.
The movie was based on what has now become a Hollywood cliché; two mismatched individuals start out with mutual hatred or detestation for each other but eventually find common ground and develop great affection. I would say that the story has been told far too many times and it might not be interesting to movie lovers who have basically lived their entire lives watching movies; they probably know it all too well. The main cast of Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds is nevertheless a source of great motivation for the audience with their natural on-screen chemistry. I must say, though, that Sandra Bullock should not have been cast as a cold and detestable character; this is especially because the discrepancy between that initially withdrawn character and the loving and gentle person into which she later transforms is the main source of comedic fodder.
Lieberman, T., Bullock, S., Hoberman, D., Kurtzman, A., Orci, R., Burr, K. (Producers), & Fletcher, A. (Director). (2009). The Proposal [Motion Picture]. Burbank, CA: Touchstone Pictures.