Inspiring Love in Film: Better Options Than Bridget Jones
This week’s guest post was written by Laura Reed, a journalist and cinema connoisseur who works in independent web-magazines and collaborates as a consultant in the making of a few movie scripts. She is also a passionate social network user, present mostly on Twitter and Badoo.
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Inspiring Love in Film: Better Options Than Bridget Jones
We may not like to admit it, but there is a mini-Bridget lurking within all of us. She’s waiting, unlit fag in hand, to spread chaos at the most inopportune moment. She just needs the right catalyst: like those times at parties where a veil of silence falls across the group and, just as you clear your voice to fill it with a witty and insightful contribution, she claps on the social blinkers and the gap between your own expectation of yourself and stubborn reality suddenly becomes a yawning chasm. Everyone looks at you as if you’re an idiot and you spill chardonnay down your dress.
When it comes to love and life, however, I’m sure that we all at least hope that the Jones archetype doesn’t apply to us. Even as Bridget seemingly manages to hook Mr Right at the end of the first film, from the very start of The Edge of Reason (2004), it is clear that hers and Darcy’s is an ill-fitting relationship; plagued by obsession and stiffness compounded by Bridget’s indomitable lack of grace.
So what else does the cinematic world have to offer up to those of us still waiting to link arms with The One under a petal-strewn glen and stroll off into the sunset planning babies? Well, there’s quite a bit of tragedy. Titanic (1997), a classic story of love vs. the class system, turns out to be more than doomed when Arctic sea ice gangs up against the lovers to sink their blossoming romance. The benchmark for star-crossed lovers overcoming social divides was probably set by Love Story (1970), where Oliver Barrett IV’s dedication to working class Jennifer Cavilleri results in the golden-tap flowing from his Harvard-graduate father’s estate being cut off. After failing to conceive, it becomes apparent that Jennifer is terminally ill and, after months of financial hardship and multiplying hospital bills, Oliver is reconciled with his family at Jennifer’s death-bed with the immortal (and, perhaps, misguided) line: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
Do our relationship archetypes have to involve either Disney fairy-tales, Bridget-style flops or the death of either party? Why is it that The English Patients of film win the Oscars? Actually, romantic cinema has been quite good at appealing to the modern zeitgeist and communicating the trials and tribulations of the everyday relationship.
Films like when Harry Met Sally (1989) and Sliding Doors (1998) offer visions of relationships that any one of us could recognise mirrored in our own experiences. But what I find really inspiring in cinema is the recurring theme of “second chances.” When you think about it, this is the best message a film can ever convey to us. After all, life may be amazing for Jake and Rachel or whoever in the end, but I don’t live Rachel’s life – and I don’t have a Jake. It’s great when a film says to us, “Hey, x or y may have happened to you but you know what? If you keep going and move on through this, there can be something up ahead that will make it all worth it.”
In The Notebook (2004) we listen as grey-haired narrators yarn the tales of their life’s love in a beautiful life-affirming story of a couple only temporarily eclipsed by World War II. But second chances aren’t always about pulling through hardships with your partner. Sometimes our partner is the hardship and our second chance is, simply, someone else. One of my favorites in this category has to be Lost In Translation (2003), a story of an unlikely love blossoming between disillusioned actor Bob and frustrated twenty something Charlotte in the claustrophobic confines of a Tokyo culture-shock. Despite the age gap, this is also a story about second chances. Bob’s failing marriage, Charlotte’s dissatisfaction with a partner who has changed too much and the solace that they find within each other’s companionship in an alien megacity subtly mirrors the lives of many of us who find themselves surrounded by people but still managing to feel alone.
My absolute number one second chance story though is Wong KarWai’s pretty, neon-candy English-language debut: My Blueberry Nights (2007). In the aftermath of a painful breakup, Elizabeth finds sanctuary eating blueberry pie every day in Manchester émigré Jeremy’s café in Manhattan. The whispers of something between them are cut short by Elizabeth’s cross-country drifting, supported by a series of waitressing jobs as she chases a dream to mend a broken heart. Her intermittent postcards to Jeremy, however, conceal her location and place of work and he tirelessly calls up restaurants in the area in an effort to find her, later writing herculean amounts of postcards to any and every restaurant in desperation. After working through her own emotional turmoil via encounters with various lost-souls, Elizabeth returns to Manhattan to a reserved seat in Jeremy’s café – and the realisation of his reciprocated feelings.
So what have I learnt? Well, an inspiring love story can definitely be made by overcoming adversity, but it can also be made by submitting to it. What really inspires me though are the films where love flowers from the mundane, transforming all our frustrations and insecurities and assuring us that we are never too old for a second chance. Or a third.
What are your experiences of second chances? Have you and your partner ever faced something which seemed insurmountable only to come out shining the other side? Or did your experience with a flop somehow flip into the best days of your life? What’s your favourite movie about love?
Copyright 2012. Simply Solo blog by Catherine Gryp. All Rights Reserved.