21 June 2010

Chick flicks

These romantic chick-flick movies make me unhappy. (Somewhere in my memory I hear the song, “Sad Movies Make Me Cry”). Of course, the plots of these films are transparent, and almost twenty minutes into the film the ending is apparent. As my daughter says, “This is too cheesy,” though exactly what that means I am very unclear. Despite our affection for a variety of cheeses, I am certain my daughter’s judgment is not a compliment.

So what I think makes me so sad is that everything works out exactly as the audience expects; nothing is left incomplete or unresolved. In a good chick-flick (I am not clear if my language is sexist here) there are no unhappy endings, and even if the heroine’s mascara runs, that, too becomes part of the resolution and doesn’t at all detract from the spotlessness of the conclusion.

And my life just hasn’t worked out that way at all. Not even close. And so tonight’s film with Vanessa Redgrave (I do adore her—see her film, Evening—it is magnificent!) as an aging British upper class lady who is drawn back to Verona, Italy by Sophie, who discovers a letter Claire had left fifty years ago in the wall of Juliet’s house, in which Claire regretted a meeting she did not keep with a lover, Lorenzo Bartolini. Sophie is in Verona on her pre-honeymoon with her fiancé who is scheduling all of their time meeting with suppliers for the new restaurant he is opening up in New York City (no concern for financing, it would seem—though when we finally see the place it is definitely an upscale establishment). In any case, Sophie is not his focus.

Sophie is a romantic, (upon arrival in Verona she walks immediately to the wall of Juliet’s house. But, let us remember: the house is a fiction because Juliet is a character is a play by William Shakespeare! There is no house and no wall!!), and she joins a group of ‘Juliet’s secretaries,’ whose job it is to write advice to the women whose letters about love have been placed on Juliet’s wall. It is Sophie’s response that draws Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) to Verona to search for her lost love. She brings her handsome but stuck-up British grandson, Charles, to accompany her on her search for Lorenzo Bartolini, and Sophie, who really wants to be a writer gets herself invited on the journey. Perhaps you can see where this is going . . . by film’s end, everyone has found her one true love—Claire her Lorenzo (each of whom have lost their first spouse), and Sophie her Charles, (the latter even climbing the balcony at the finale to propose marriage to his Juliet). Sophie writes her (first!!) story, and the editor of the New Yorker accepts it for publication: her future as a writer is effortlessly and romantically assured. They all lived happily ever after.

I know life isn’t like the movies, and that is its tragedy. But damn, why am I so tormented?


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