Starring: Vito Sanz, Berta Vázquez, Chino Darín
Director: Mateo Gil
Running Time: 100 mins
The Laws Of Thermodynamics (Las leyes de la termodinámica) is a Spanish film about a man who suffers a breakup with his girlfriend, explained through the theories of quantum physics and thermodynamics.
There are so, so many romantic comedies out there, so it’s a real pleasure to see one that really thinks outside of the box, and takes a different approach to the most formulaic premise in film. The Laws Of Thermodynamics, while not perfect, does exactly that, and with a likable core story that’s brilliantly brought to life by a pseudo-documentary style, it proves a surprising and consistently entertaining watch right the way through.
At its core, the movie tells the bog-standard romantic comedy story. A guy and a girl have a meet-cute, get together, have an argument, break up, and then that’s pretty much it. Now, there are hundreds of films every year that tell that exact same story, and nothing else, simply sitting with the idea that ‘true love’ is in itself enough to hold your attention throughout.
The Laws Of Thermodynamics, on the other hand, recognises that the bargain basement romantic comedy really isn’t enough to be a film on its own, and that’s why it takes that core formula and tells it through a different spectre. Rather than being all about love and romance, it’s a film that talks about emotions and relationships from a scientific perspective, relating the ups and downs of any romantic relationship with the natural dynamics of physics.
So, while we see the relationship between the two leads unfold, the film features regular interjections from a number of ‘interviewees’, who explain the ‘laws of thermodynamics’ in documentary style, only for those scientific formulae and theories to then be played out in the form of the romantic story.
It’s a weird idea, and not one that you’d think would work for very long, but there’s something about this movie’s brilliantly unique approach to a painfully overplayed story that’s so fun to watch, and continues to surprise time after time.
On the one hand, the explanations of the laws of thermodynamics are, in and of themselves, really rather interesting. It’s a nice top-up on any lingering knowledge of physics you might still have from school, but otherwise, there’s quite a lot to learn from the movie, although I must admit I found quite a lot of it a little too complicated to get my head round.
On the other hand, though, the mockumentary style of the film gives it a great, almost parodic sense of humour. It’s not a rom-com parody, in the sense that it doesn’t attack the tropes and formula of the genre, but it’s more of a parody, or a mockery, of the predictable, natural way of things in the real world.
Taking aim at the nature of romantic relationships in all their guises, the film uses science to demonstrate that all the ups and downs of a relationship are not only inevitable, but can be easily predicted. Of course, the majority of the coincidences and correlations between the science and the romance are engineered by the film’s clever screenplay, but I was really quite hooked by the way that the film was able to draw lines between the two, with even some of the more outlandish suggestions proving genuinely convincing.
And that’s what really stands out about The Laws Of Thermodynamics. As a pure romantic comedy, there’s not much special about it. The majority of its emotional drama is far from engaging, and most of the jokes that happen in the world of the romance (not the mockumentary) aren’t that great.
However, with a unique and very clever approach to telling an age-old story, the film proves strangely eye-opening, consistently surprising, and most of all genuinely entertaining throughout. It’s not a classic rom-com, but it is one that feels really refreshing in the midst of cinema’s most formulaic genre, and that’s why I’m giving The Laws Of Thermodynamics a 7.7 overall.