Let’s chat about films for a bit.
A few weeks ago, my roommate and I rented a movie which some of you might have seen. It’s called Like Crazy. Basically it’s about two people, Jacob and Anna, who fall in love. And for most of us, the story should end there. Because finding that one person with whom you can share a passionate love is the only detail of any love story that really matters, right?
Well, no. To be honest, I was quite disappointed upon first watching the film. I mean, from what the audience can infer, those lovebirds don’t fly off into the sunset to enjoy a happily ever after.
To summarize the story (spoilers), Anna is from England and overstays her visa in order to spend the summer with Jacob. After returning to London, Anna then tries to re-enter the United States, but is refused entry. Even so, the couple tries everything to sustain a romantic relationship; Jacob temporarily moves to England, and they attempt marriage, however uncommitted and unfaithful it is. Still, they are unable to make things work. Something gets lost in all their efforts to force a love that’s not meant to be.
The story ends with Anna’s moving in with Jacob after she is finally allowed to re-enter the U.S. years later. They seem unhappy, their efforts at love contrived. As an audience, we are afforded no closure at the film’s end. Just the feeling of a forsaken love.
I was furious. They were supposed to end up together, happy and as in love as they were at the beginning. But, alas. They do not.
And I got to thinking…that I judged this movie as stupid, pointless, and a waste of time. But why? What are good movies made of anyways? To evoke in us a fleeting happiness, to force-feed us false ideas about love, life, and happy endings? That’s a hollow play* in my opinion.
I think we’ve allowed society to give us front-row seats in its theater so that we might evade for an hour and a half the difficulties of life, so that we might avoid our problems. And unfortunately, this enables self-pity. We begin to ask ourselves why our lives can’t work out as simply as the characters’ in some film.
After some thought, I’d honestly rather watch a movie where I can relate to the characters and their struggles. I’d like to be reminded that I’m not the only one who’s dealt with heartbreak, defeat, frustration, and the like. It might benefit us to see that we are not alone in facing the hardships of life.
So yeah, Jacob and Anna didn’t get together, and that’s sad. But that’s life. And it goes on. Just because we don’t see what happens next doesn’t mean it isn’t exciting, and scary, and at times wonderfully full of hope about an unknown future.
Watching a film shouldn’t be an a mind-numbing experience from which we emerge unchanged, but rather a tool by which we can gain a better understanding about human nature.
The mess, the madness, and the maybes of a story-line are more like real life than any cheesy chick-flick. Engage with the stories you watch, and see if you don’t learn something about your own life.
And be happy despite the ending, if for no other reason than that your story goes on even after the credits.
May all be well.
*lyric from Arcade Fire’s song “My Body is a Cage”