Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Movies about love

Tonight I watched a movie recommended to me - The Vow ... a 2012 romantic drama film directed by Michael Sucsy, starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams. The film is based on the true story of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter .... Ten weeks after their wedding on 18 September 1993, the couple were involved in an auto-mobile accident in which Krickitt suffered a brain trauma, which erased memories of her romance with Kim as well as their marriage. Kim is still deeply in love with his wife, although she views him as a stranger after the accident. According to the couple, their faith in Jesus and their wedding vows before God kept them together.

I'm mostly a watcher of science fiction or thriller films and I think part of the reason I don't watch many romantic movies is that the characters are often very hard for me to identify with .... they all seem so perfect and self-confident, they take so for granted their worthiness and capability for romantic love. My own self-image and relationships seem tortured in comparison. Perhaps that made it a little harder for me to feel as much empathy as I should have for this couple's hardships.

Here's a bit of Roger Ebert's review (2.5 stars) ...

[...] Paige and Leo are a young Chicago couple. She's a Lake Forest blue blood who angered her parents by dropping out of Northwestern law school, moving into the city and enrolling at the School of the Art Institute, where she sculpts clay into such forms that Leo mistakes a pile of fresh clay for one of her artworks. Leo has opened an independent recording studio, arguing that although everyone may be able to produce songs on their laptops, he can aim higher — at the heights of an old Sun Records session, for example.

They live happily. They are in love. She is estranged from her parents. They look great together, and as played by Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum why shouldn't they? The actors bring a dreamy warmth to their roles. Then one snowy night, the two are rear-ended by a truck. He wakes up in the hospital. She remains in a drug-induced coma to assist her brain in reducing its swelling. When she recovers, she has no memory of ever meeting or being married to Leo .....

This same story could be a fraught melodrama with pumped-up characters and dire consequences. "The Vow" is more of a sweet date movie for Valentine's Day; the women can identify with this poor Paige who belongs with the handsome Leo, and the guys can think that Rachel McAdams has just about the sweetest smile since Marisa Tomei. The more we discover about the story, indeed, the nicer a guy Leo turns out to be. The way the story resolves itself offers poetic justice.

But it's all too painless. One can imagine the anguish of the case in real life. How, really, do you approach the subject of having sex with your husband if you don't remember him? Especially when he is theoretically not the kind of man you would choose, and you believe you're engaged to a man you love? "The Vow" never really grapples with those issues. It's pleasant enough as a date movie, but that's all ...

And here's a trailer ...

I thought I'd also mention a couple of other movies about relationship that I have actually liked ...

One is Romeo and Juliet ... a 1968 British-Italian romance film based on the tragic play of the same name (1591-95) by William Shakespeare. The film was directed and co-written by Franco Zeffirelli, and starred Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey. It won Academy Awards for Best Cinematogry .... I first saw this in a class on Shakespeare. As we all know, it's about two teens of warring families who fall in love and decide to run away together. When things go terrible wrong, they end up committing suicide. I know, sounds grim, but the film is really good at envisioning the effervescent feeling of romantic love ...

The other movie is The Next Three Days (I wrote about it here). The 2010 movie is a remake of the 2007 French film Pour Elle by Fred Cavayé. Directed by Paul Haggis (Crash), it stars Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, and Brian Dennehy, and it tells the story of a family: college teacher John Brennan (Crowe), his wife Lara, and their little son. Everything changes for them when Lara is arrested and jailed for a murder she didn't commit and her husband gives up his whole life to break her out of prison ...


Anonymous Henry said...

Ha, ha, ha... well, I didn't recommend it because it was a masterpiece but because it was related to the articles you've been citing (which I read event though they were very long!). BTW, the French film - A heart in Winter" - is not dubbed so you may not be able to see it.

One thing I found thought provoking is that it raises a question I never considered: What is the link between memory and love?

Of course, since it is a movie - not a documentary - it departs from what actually happened (e.g., in real life, the couple did not divorce because they understood the nature of "a vow").

Lastly, looked at through the lens of the statement you disliked - Agape is willing the good of the other - does what happened enflesh that concept for you?

One source of continual wonder for me is that those who met Christ in the flesh when He walked the streets of Jerusalem, etc., chose the Greek word "Agape" to describe how He loved? What did they experience in His presence that made them say "that's the only word that faithfully expresses what I experienced when He looked at me"?

More to say after Christmas...

P.S. The next three days was a surprise choice - I have it and I will watch it again.

1:55 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

I will give the French movie a try - the library does have it - but it sounds like it will be depressing, kind of like "the unbearable lightness of being" but without Daniel Day-Lewis ;)

I understand agape - unconditional love - but I don't think that's a basis for marriage. I mean, of course you would hope spouses feel that for each other too, but without romantic love (eros) than how would you distinguish friendship from romance ... it ends up making marriage "friendship with privileges" ... eek!

Anyway, Merry Christmas :)

3:44 PM  

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