This idea of ‘creative fulfilment’ is crucial to Ha’s decision to take on the role of Kwan. Right from her very first experience with the character, she was on-board. “I’ve never really gotten briefs for characters like Kwan, to be honest with you,” she says. “The industry is really changing. It really started with Crazy Rich Asians, and I’m going to bring it back there because I feel like that really shook Hollywood up. But to see such a young, powerful Korean woman, just unapologetically speak her voice, speak her mind, try to do whatever it takes to get what she wants, but also trying to do it for the greater good for the people, understanding what sacrifices, understanding what a legacy is. That kind of storyline is what really hooked me. And I found that that was really important to tell, and we don’t really get to see that many times. It’s definitely changing. But growing up, I never saw those stories. I only saw Asian women playing stereotypes in convenience stores and all this kind of stuff. So for me it’s also really important that younger generations see themselves be portrayed in a really fierce way.”
Hey, I’m a cheap date. You show me a trailer with Natalie Portman writhing around half-nekkid, and I’ll at least give the movie a look on Blu-ray. I had to brace myself for this one, though. No Strings Attached is a romantic comedy, after all, and that’s a genre that doesn’t always play that nicely with that pesky Y chromosome of mine. There’s also the whole thing with Ashton Kutcher being on the bill, and his filmography’s not exactly teeming with winners. Turns out, though. I kinda like it.
Relationshippy stuff later
You know the story. Boy meets girl. Boy asks to finger girl. Girl says no. well, they do. So. what’s next? Emma (Natalie Portman) isn’t exactly in the (Ashton Kutcher) , meanwhile, just wants as much of her as he can get. So, when Emma shrugs and says they should just be fuckbuddies, Adam nods and goes right along with it. No commitment. In any other romantic comedy, you’d get a montage of cutesy, doe-eyed falling-in-love moments; here, there’s a barrage of shots of them screwing in empty hospital rooms and stuff. But. c’mon, of course Adam falls for her. Wouldn’t be much of a movie otherwise. Will Adam smash down those emotional barriers Kool Aid Man-style and win Emma over? Is it possible for a guy and a girl to unapologetically serial-boink each other and just stay friends?
Yeah, yeah, you know who’s gonna wind up with who by the time the end credits roll, but that’s not really the point. No Strings Attached is actually a lot of fun, and a big part of that’s the way it pokes at the romantic comedy formula. Instead of two people meeting-cute and trying to figure out if they like each other, Adam and Emma are screwing twentysomething minutes in. Sex first. There’s also kind of a gender reversal. This time around, Emma — the female half of the equation — is the one pulling the reins. She’s the one with the daunting, impressive dayjob. She’s the aggressor. she sets the tempo for the fuckbuddy-dom. She’s the one who keeps her emotions walled off and is just out to have a good time. She’s the dude in this whatever-it-is, leaving Adam with the touchy-feely part. Although Natalie Portman is a little too overtly adorable to completely pull off this sort of character, No Strings Attached does a shockingly terrific job getting Ashton Kutcher to play against type. He’s not an obnoxiously smug cocksman this time around, nor is he some meek wallflower. There’s not some lesson he has to learn the way you get in a bunch of rom-coms. He’s a little on the quiet side, sure, but he’s still reasonably confident and obviously sporting those Abercrombie and Fitch coverboy good lucks. Adam does perfectly well with the ladies, although you get the sense he doesn’t have to try all that hard to land the ones he’s been getting. His dayjob is working as a lowly P.A. on some High School Musical knockoff, and Adam seems to think the way to win Emma over is to follow along with what he learned on TV. He pulls all sorts of cute, kitschy tricks out of the bag that in a Nora Ephron comedy would have her beaming with a smile, but in No Strings Attached, Emma just kind of stares at him in mild horror. I actually really like this dialed-down version of Ashton Kutcher, and he and Natalie Portman have a ridiculous amount of chemistry together.