[Reed's[ 2006 anti-romantic comedy The Break-Up had its ending softened after disastrous test screenings. It betrayed the admirably acidic tone of the film, one that harkens back to the brutal dissections of relationships that seemed to come out once a month in the 1970s. No alteration to the ending, nor even Reed's sprightly colors and immaculately colored production design, could cover up the ugliness of the film's core. And that's how it should be.
In “The Break-Up,” Reed inverted the trope of the romantic comedy to make it a romantic disaster that revealed the terms and the limits of love. In lieu of the stylization of “Down with Love,” Reed devised a smoothly choreographed exchange of agonized gazes, a deftly comic whirl of mutual incomprehension. In effect, he transformed the codes and tones of the breezy domestic comedy into a grave tale of sharp social perceptions—converted comedy into melodrama.