In the world of romantic comedies, the mistaken-identity ruse, handled right, is like gold. When it’s handled with moderate effectiveness, it’s more like gold-plated—though sometimes, for an afternoon or evening’s diversion, that’s enough. In Ghosted, directed by Dexter Fletcher, Ana de Armas and Chris Evans play, respectively, a charmer and a farmer: de Armas’ Sadie is a winsome commitmentphobe who’s rattled by a recent loss in her life. Evans’ Cole is a sweet, plant-loving swain who’s been just been dumped by a girlfriend for being too clingy.
These two bond—or not—when Cole tries to sell Sadie a cactus at the Georgetown farmers’ market where he’s working. He insults her; she storms off. He chases after her, she relents, and they share a dreamy date that stretches into the next day. Once he’s home—he works on the farm owned by his parents, played by a whiskery Tate Donovan and a dithery Amy Sedaris—he can’t stop thinking about her. He texts her once, twice, thrice and more. He sends an emoji or two—he just can’t stop himself—but no response. It would appear, though in his fresh-from-the-lily-pad naivete he can hardly believe it, he’s been ghosted.
That’s one possibility. The other is that Sadie just might be a CIA agent on a secret mission to recover a stolen biochemical weapon and simply can’t get back to him right away. Ghosted riffs on the little lies we tell ourselves, and sometimes others, as a way of avoiding the truth, and for a comedy that swerves rather awkwardly into action-thriller territory, it’s not half-bad. There are worse things in life than spending a few hours in the company of appealing performers as they play out some of the classic romantic-comedy patterns.
Through much of the movie, these two characters simply can’t stand one another—Cole is angry at having been deceived by Sadie (though she never exactly lied about her line of work), and she’s pissed off about the way he’s bungled his way into her mission, putting her in grave danger with a silky-silly villain played by Adrien Brody. They spend much of the movie snapping at one another like crabby turtles circling one another on a rock, and their mutual annoyance gives the not-always-fresh material a prickly frisson, mitigating the pitfalls a movie can fall into when both of its leads are almost too adorable.
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That’s not to say Ghosted doesn’t hit some craggy patches; in fact, it rumbles its way over a pretty bumpy one right at the beginning. Evans and de Armas have appeared onscreen together before—in Rian Johnson’s sprightly 2019 murder mystery Knives Out, as well as in the less satisfying thriller The Gray Man, from 2022—and there was no reason to doubt they’d click in a romantic comedy. Maybe people were expecting too much: when the Ghosted trailer was released, there was a bit of Internet gum-flapping about the alleged lack of chemistry between them. Once the movie gets cooking—as it jumps from London to Pakistan and beyond—Evans and de Armas settle into their fractious groove, and the complaints seem unwarranted.
But the farmers’ market meet-cute is filmed, for whatever reason, with abysmal clumsiness, mostly in a series of shot-reverse-shots that make you wonder if the two actors were even together on set at that point. How are two characters supposed to fall in love that way? It’s a wonder Cole and Sadie get past that moment, but once they do–and especially once Cole trades his farm-boy duds for a slick suit, and Sadie her rugged spy gear for a vixenish, slit-to-there evening dress—Ghosted clacks along efficiently, ticking off all the expected boxes. There are no surprises here, just the pleasant ectoplasmic shimmer of a formula you’ve seen a million times before, vanishing almost as soon as the end credits start rolling.
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