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Rom Com Truths
June 17, 2013 - Carrie Olson
I did it again. I got Nate to watch another chick flick favorite of mine, this time "My Best Friend's Wedding." Of course, this was after he conned me into watching more than half of Game 5 of the NBA Finals. I think I won this battle, as I usually prove to be one of the worst sports watchers on the planet. "Why did he do that? And why did that guy do that?" "What team is playing? The Pistons, right?" "Did you know that that guy is divorced from this actress (and so on, and so forth)?"
Anyways, we sat down to watch the movie after spending the previous day walking around downtown Hoboken, the waterfront (where they coincidentally filmed The Waterfront), and getting our fill of sun. I had mentioned the movie to him before, saying that while it was far-fetched, it had a lot of honesty in the writing. With our bellies full of pre-game food (chicken wings, Twizzlers, Starbursts, and cheesy potatoes - balanced right?), we embarked on our sappy adventure.
For anyone who needs a refresher on the Julia Roberts flick (or who hasn't watched it yet), a short summary: Julianne plays a NYC food critic who is still in love with her best friend/college sweetheart Michael. The Chicago-based sports writer and Julianne had a spoken agreement that if they weren't married by the age of 28, they would marry each other. Unfortunately, Julianne was banking on this promise, and a few weeks before her fateful birthday, Michael called her with news that he was marrying another woman in just a few days time. Julianne is asked to be the maid of honor, decides to sabotage the wedding to the best of her abilities and win Michael back. It's crazy, it's dramatic, and in the end, Julianne is left alone and vaguely happy for the newly married couple. And that is why I like this film.
Although the plot is fictional, the ideas behind the movie are quite the opposite. When I was in high school, I always thought that I would move to NYC and have a crazy romantic life, just like those chick flicks had promised. Either I'd have to decide between two great guys who were fighting over me, or perhaps I'd play the underdog nerdy friend who is overlooked until the end. Whatever the circumstance, I'd end up immensely happy and uh, yeah, the rest would be history.
Unfortunately, dreaming about that blissful ever after doesn't really do any good. You've got to act on your feelings and make it a reality. Otherwise, it just stays in fantasyland. Julia Roberts' character thinks that she and Michael are meant to be, and although he has shown interest in the past, she just puts it off until her life is ready for such a situation. Yeah, that doesn't usually bode well. You can bet that if you are just putting off living until everything is perfect, that the rest of the world will continue on - and forget you. Julianne's friend George says to her: "Look, tell him you love him. Bite the bullet." Good advice. What is the worst he can say? No, I don't love you. Or, no, it's too late for us. Yeah, it would suck to hear, but it's a kick start to moving on.
But does she? No. Instead, she feels it is best to sabotage his relationship than to tell her truth. And while that seems idiotic, it happens a lot in real life. She tells the character that she loves him when it is too late. In life, if you are unable to communicate your desires out loud, perhaps it was never meant to be. Perhaps the idea of him was all there ever was.
After Julianne finally tells Michael that she is in love with him, things don't go as planned for her. Michael goes after his fiance, while Julianne continues to try to plead with him to love her. Again George, the voice of reason, says something unforgettable. George: "Michael's chasing Kimmy?" Julianne: "Yes!" George: "You're chasing Michael?" Julianne: "Yes!" George: "Who's chasing you? Nobody, get it? There's your answer."
Finally, at the very end, she realizes that she has to let Michael go. And while most rom coms urge leading ladies to keep hopping after their dashing gentlemen, in real life, we all know there is a moment where it's time to concede. And it's not just saying "I give up," but it's admitting that moving on is for the best, especially for yourself.
So it's sappy. It is. But the ending isn't like most other romantic comedies. She ends up alone. And although we want to be believe that most lives are like a chick flick, they aren't. You wait too long - life passes by. Sometimes there isn't a "right" person, there may be a couple and you just have to choose. And regret. It's something that everyone has to live with in one way or another.
Life isn't easy, and while it is nice to sit in a theater with popcorn and watch something lighthearted and sweet - there is a reason why it's a best-selling movie: It's fantasy.
I'm pretty happy not to be chasing after someone in this big city, unlike what my 17-year-old self would have wanted. With all the real-life problems that exist out there, that just sounds exhausting.