Movies. Movie fall into the category of Things I Enjoyed Pre-Kids. Deciding to see a movie requires PhD research-skills. My husband or I will scour the Internet for reviews, check Rotten Tomatoes and ask our few friends, who still watch movies, for their opinion before committing 2+ hours of our life to watching a story unfold that most often leaves one of us asleep on the couch before the ending credits roll. It’s not that we don’t like to watch movies it’s just that we don’t like to watch bad movies.
When the idea of love stories played out on film was first suggested as the theme for 4Mothers this week, my favourite movie titles from yesteryear flooded my brain.
An Affair to Remember. Casablanca. Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Ghost. Atonement. Two for Road. Pretty Woman. The Way We Were. The Bridges of Madison County.
I mentally sifted through all of the love stories that are etched in my memory and came to this conclusion.
I am one pathetic case.
Rom-coms, anything with Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson or Katherine Heigl – I will take a pass. The overwhelming stench of aged Emmental oozing from the television set every time one of these films is playing doesn’t do it for me. I can’t bear the formulaic storylines:
a) Goofy, geeky, clumsy girl crushes hard on the devilishly handsome, misunderstood boy. Boy goes on to coax said girl from her wallflower exterior only to reveal a sassy, witty, knock-out who can pound back beer with the boys and has the moves like Jagger in the bedroom.
b) Boy and girl play cat-and-mouse for 90 minutes with several gaffes, misunderstood text messages and “not-what-it-looks-like” moments. Throw in a makeover scene and an all-knowing best friend and you have pretty much every movie Kate Hudson has ever made.
Romantic comedies don’t just make my eyes ache from excessive rolling, but I find my mind wanders from the “complexities” of the plot and I mutter “puh-lease” more times in two hours than I did when I watched the Lance Armstrong/Oprah interview.
Who rolls over and plants a sloppy, open-mouthed kiss on someone first thing in the morning? Puh-lease, morning breath!
Who goes to bed with a full-face of make-up and wakes up looking more beautiful then when they went to bed? Puh-lease, bright washrooms lighting first thing in the morning is no girl’s friend!
And what about the dialogue? Who talks like that? Are couples all around the country having saccharine soaked exchanges all day along? Are my husband and I the only ones who barely have a second to chat and when we do there is definitely some talk about how many bags of milk are in the fridge.
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” (Says Jennifer to Oliver in Love Story).
Well Jennifer, I am not exactly sure where you came up with this little ditty, but I can think of plenty of times when an “I am sorry” is just the start of the road to forgiveness.
“After all I do for you, you didn’t even have the courtesy to get me a birthday card?” says a wife to her husband.
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” says the husband to the wife.
Try it. See how well it goes over.
As much as I don’t enjoy overly romantic comedies, I have to admit to a long-standing love affair with Dirty Dancing. Yes, it has cheesy dialogue (“Nobody puts Baby in a corner!”) and the story line is predictable but the chemistry between Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey is palpable.
Women around the world, put down your 50 Shades of Grey and pick up your remote, because there is no hotter sex scene on-screen than the one between Johnny and Baby when she comes to his cabin in the dark of night. There is no nudity or vulgar suggestion (Sharon Stone, I am looking at you) but the sexual tension between the two, with Otis Redding playing in the background, will make anyone’s pulse race.
Just like Mac ‘n cheese, and peanut butter and chocolate, there is something inherently feel good about the movie Dirty Dancing but when asked to pick my favourite love story, it doesn’t measure up.
I like my love stories to be real.
Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley adapted Alice Munro’s short story The Bear Came Over the Mountain for her 2006 movie with an all-star cast, Away From Her.
Grant and Fiona have been married for 44 loving and happy years, but a marriage that has endured for more than 4 decades is bound to have its scars. Grant’s brief infidelity years before haunts Fiona who has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Grant, broken by her deterioration stays by his wife’s side as the disease slowly steals from her every shred of dignity.
And this is why I am pathetic.
In a world filled with make-believe romances where the boy always gets the girl, I am drawn to these harrowing, real-life love stories.
Fiona with her matted hair and mismatched clothes wanders aimlessly from room to room in the nursing home she is confined to, but it’s Grant’s unwavering love for his wife that stirs every emotion in me. Just like my grandmother did, Grant desperately tries to hold onto any part of his beloved…a look, a smile, the way the body moves.
Love that spans decades, overcomes hardships and heartaches, is the real deal.
There is no soundtrack to that kind of love.
My mother-in-law refused to see the film.
“When you get to my age, that kind of stuff is lurking around the corner. I don’t want to see my reality played out for me prematurely.”
I see her point. Sometimes a little saccharine is good.
And that is why my all-time favourite on-film love story is When Harry Met Sally.
““I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle in your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
- Harry (Billy Crystal) to Sally (Meg Ryan)
The perfect mix of candy-coated sweetness and reality.
images (in order from top to bottom): womanatics.com, entertainment.time.com, movies.tvguide.com, brightwalldarkroom.com