This past Memorial weekend I found myself at BBQ celebrating...well, not Memorial Day that's for sure, rather it was a return to my ye ol' college days; in other words, being soused. But I've already gotten off topic because, alas, there was no romance to be found there. Instead, on the actual day of Memorial, I found myself quite with nothing to do. I tried going to one of the few places in Hollywood that provides peace and quiet from the constant teaming of life that surrounds me daily, only to be bitterly disappointed at the crowds I met instead. So, I thought, if you can't beat em, join em. With that thought in mind, I elected to let my mind and conscious be suspended for a few hours, however, this time it wasn't with a romance novel but twas a movie I had in mind. Romance is never far from my thoughts but there wasn't a romantic movie to be found at the box office. Oh no! Summer is the season for blockbuster films and comedies. Not sappy, dappy, mushy, cushy, lovey dovey (have you had enough already?)...romance. So I chose the most interesting film offered. Mud.
From the first frame of the film I was drawn into what I thought was a suspense film. As the stories of two young teenage boys intertwine with that of a fugitive on the run, I realized (with shock!) that the film was in large part, a romance. Don't get me wrong, the only passion on screen was the unrequited love of the mostly male cast, but it was the intensity of their love that was the driving force for these alpha male characters. Specifically, the character of Ellis, who plays the lead coming of age teenager that helps the title character, Mud. At times, it was hard to believe that this was a 14 yr old kid and not a grown man taking on the world with only his heart guiding him.
Not unlike most romance novels, in the film, love is the source of the characters deepest pain but also their redemption and ultimately, their salvation. In the hardest of loves many lessons, a boy becomes a man, and a man becomes saved.
By comparison I also saw a film by, Sarah Polley, whose films tend to show what a poignant student of male/female relationship she is. Take This Waltz, was funny, sexy and intense in its naked portrayal of long term relationships between men and women.
The film examines the way in which women see themselves over their lifetime, their choices and the consequences of those choices. It was definitely a romance within a romance. On the one hand you have a woman, Margot, who is in a happy, if not perfect marriage, but is constantly fantasizing about her love for the man who lives across the street. Polley does a masterful job of keeping the audience clued into the flawed love life of Margot and her husband, yet leaving out the holes in the possibility the love Margot might experience should she leave her marriage.
The interminable longing is wrapped up in a sexual and passionate tension so tight that when it finally breaks, you believe Margot has made the right choice. But in the end, Polley shows you that when it comes to enduring love, over time, one must adjust the heart strings. What notes may have once made it sing, may one day get old and you may need to find a different way to play the same song.
In the immortal words of Pat Benatar, "Love Is A Battlefield."