The Cinematic Design of the Perfect Man

Whether it be the lovable best friend, or the handsome stranger from the café, romantic comedies have, for generations, developed the ideal prototype of the “perfect man”.

They are lovable, yet flawed, funny, yet sensitive, and charming yet goofy. What a perfectly constructed concoction of everything women adore… until the credits role, and we are back to reality. Though underlying ideals and characteristics of the “male love interest” has inevitably shifted with the times, making men more in tune with gender equality and basic respect, the core ingredients have not altered.  This has become somewhat of an influence on a women’s idea of who their “soulmate”, or “perfect match” (if you believe in that sort of thing) should be, and how they will meet.

Love Actually. Photo Credit: Giphy

Whether he be the Patrick Verona to your Katarina Stratford, or the Paul Varjak to your Holly Golightly, this myth of meet-cutes and moments that take your breath away have skewed peoples grip on reality. It has also, more dangerously, skewed women’s grip on romance. Men are not part of a mould, pushed off a conveyor belt, and wrapped in a tailored suit, and sexy 5 o’clock shadow. They are more-than-likely the best friend of the leading man, the Jack Black to the Jude Law, or Seth Rogen to the Henry Golding. The idea of the “everyman” has become just not quite good enough.

Crazy Rich Asians. Photo Credit: Business Insider

So where did this ideal come from? Well the whole concept stems way back from the 1930s, when the Golden Age of cinema was underway. This is where the popular idea of the romantic hero started, with the likes of the Clark Gable and Fred Astaire. The 1940s brought with it James Stewart and Cary Grant in The Philadelphia Story, and Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. At this point, we can see a pattern developing. The leading man is suave, charming, well groomed, and well-dressed. Always confident, but also lovable. They could have their dorky moments, but still remain cool. This archetype didn’t change much throughout the 1950s, with the likes of Gregory Peck and Gene Kelly leading the pack.

Roman Holiday. Photo Credit: Giphy

By the time the 21st century rolled around, essentially nothing changed in the role of the rom-com leading man. If we think about Matthew McConaughey in How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days, or Colin Firth in… well pretty much anything Colin Firth is known for, we see that the characters have gained a certain vulnerability that golden age cinema lacked, but remain suave, sophisticated, well-educated and most importantly – handsome. They have their flaws and their moments of conflict, but all is forgotten when they run out into the rain, or to the airport, or the snow-covered streets, to declare their love and win the girl.

To bring this all back to my earlier point of dangerously skewing a woman’s standard of what the real world will offer them, it is not so much a bad thing to expect such a level of romance but more of an unrealistic expectation. If this is what you want, ladies, then don’t settle for less. Just keep in mind, you will probably have to be very patient… and hang out in dog parks, because he is obviously going to have a dog but that’s an entire other conversation in itself.

Who is your cinematic crush? Let us know in the comments below.