2005 was no doubt an excellent year for the Rom-Com, from The 40 Year Old Virgin, to Just Friends, and Hitch. While these films can be a ton of fun, the truth is they're predictable. With Fetching Cody, David Ray manages to refresh the sub-genre by adding elements of surprise from start to finish. The film is difficult to classify. Yes, there is romance. In fact, at the heart of it, it is a story about true, selfless, love. And sure, the dialogue offers a few laughs, mostly in convergence with its fantasy elements (What? Did I not mention the time traveling chair yet?). What's truly special about this film though, is that through all of this, it never loses the gut-wrenching grittiness that is Downtown Vancouver.
The film features Jay Baruchel as the heart-warming anti-hero Art - a hot-headed-but-sweet, homeless, drug-addicted, drug-dealing, former prostitute. Always sporting his Notre-Dame-de-Grace hoodie, Art does his best to maintain a happy existence with (and for) the love of his life, Cody (played by Sarah Lind). The film opens on the two of them embracing the day - bike rides, long walks, lunch in a diner (eating leftovers off of used plates), good conversation. The two seem unreasonably happy together as they stare dreamily into each others eyes. Close-ups and tight framing throughout this entire opening sequence emphasize their intimacy, but the afternoon is soon abruptly interrupted when a car pulls up in front of them and Cody rips off her sweater while hurrying over. Her work day has begun. Once Cody is in the passenger seat she locks her eyes on Art, apologetically. An aerial shot finally reveals the city; the film is telling the audience it's truth time. The small world that is Art and Cody's actually belongs to a much bigger and much more unforgiving one.
Fetching Cody may be a love story, but more significantly it is a story about life. It pokes and prods at the concept of destiny, exploring what it means to be sad, to be happy, to be mad, to simply have no control. When Cody falls into a heroin-induced coma, Art stumbles across a time-traveling armchair and convinces himself that there is not only a way to save her life, but to change it. In a series of comical events, Art visits crucial episodes of Cody's childhood, in search of the moment she "got fucked up". Was it the high school bullies on the day of her first period? Was it her first broken heart? Was it her brother's suicide? Her childhood attack?
After attempting to change each of these moments, Art returns to the present-day, but time and time again, she remains in the hospital. Is this her fate? Drug-addiction, prostitution... Art refuses to believe there isn't something special out there for his beautiful Cody and is willing to do ANYTHING to find it for her.
This film certainly pulled at my heart-strings and I highly recommend it to anyone who has ever wondered if the universe really has a plan.