10 Things I Hate About You
I know I’ve been off the radar but I’m back with a review of a movie that I think is often overlooked.
10 Things I Hate About You could have been just another teen movie, but it’s not. As a rule, teen movies don’t really do it for me, but after catching twenty minutes of this on a recent TV run I went straight out and bought the DVD. It’s one of those films I forget how much I like until I watch it again, so I’m hoping to rekindle some interest out there in what is actually a pretty wicked movie.
Unlike a lot of high school dramas 10 Things has the major advantage of being based on a Shakespeare play, putting it way ahead in the plot stakes. Throughout the movie there are little nods to it’s Elizabethan heritage, such as direct quotes from both the play and The Sonnets, as well as giving the sisters the surname “Stratford” and even an appearance from “William” himself. The Taming of the Shrew has been re-imagined almost as many times as Romeo and Juliet, but I reckon 10 Things is up at the top of the list as an adaption that stays true to the play while still giving it an entirely modern spin.
My favourite thing about this film is that, unlike so many other ugly duckling stories, Kat doesn’t have to change who she is in order to get her happy ending. She keeps her fierce temper and “screw everyone” attitude, still managing to get the guy. I’m hard pushed to find another film where a character who so obviously stands out from the crowd doesn’t have to conform in some way, and for that 10 Things should be applauded. Correct me if I’m wrong, (I’m no expert) but as far as I remember even in the original text Katarina becomes submissive to her new husband and relinquishes her power to him.
A great plot can get you so far, but you also need great actors to pull it off. Luckily this movie has plenty of them, headed by the always brilliant Heath Ledger. I think this was the first film I saw with him in, and while a 20 year old playing a High School kid with a secretive past isn’t the biggest stretch in his tragically short career, he carries it off with effortless charm and appeal which make him the perfect foil for Julia Stiles’ Kat. While we’re on the subject, what happened to Stiles? Apart from a small-ish part in the Bourne films she seems to have vanished. She’s brilliant as Kat, bringing out her frustrated anger while still showing moments of vulnerability that make her sympathetic.
I could go on about this film for a while, but I’ll draw your attention to one final key ingredient that makes it so good. The soundtrack is brilliant. Perfectly matched to every scene, it really takes you back to the 90s, but steers clear of the mainstrem, just like our heroine. I think the best example of the use of music in the film is in the opening sequence; where the upbeeat “One Week” gives way to “Bad Reputation” as Kat’s car pulls up.
If you haven’t seen 10 Things I Hate About You I strongly suggest you pick up the DVD (it’s pretty cheap now, 11 years after it’s release….anyone else feeling old?) It’s a fun film with a snappy script and a feel good ending that’s still light on the sugar. I’ll leave you with the most famous quote from the film, Kat’s own version of Sonnet 141
I hate the way you talk to me.
And the way you cut your hair.
I hate the way you drive my car.
I hate it when you stare
I hate your big dumb combat boots.
And the way you read my mind.
I hate you so much it makes me sick
it even makes me rhyme.
I hate the way you’re always right.
I hate it when you lie.
I hate it when you make me laugh, even worse when you make me cry.
I hate it that you’re not around.
And the fact that you didnt call.
But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you, not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.