Sunday, May 27, 2012
The thing about love stories is that we basically all know what's going to happen. Two people meet, they become friends, the friendship deepens, romantic feelings develop, they become all lovey-dovey and happy and gaze into each other's eyes and we all want to puke on the movie screen, then problems interfere, people fight, people say things they don't mean, people stomp off angrily into the night, sad music plays over a montage of the good times, people discover that their love is stronger than whatever is holding them back and they run back to each other and embrace, happier music plays, end scene. So we've all seen it before and it's hard to inject anything new into the proceedings, and people like to cynically point out that this is really the same movie filmed over and over and over again with different actors...and my response is "well don't watch it, then." I happen to LIKE these movies. I have been in love. I've gazed lovingly into someone's eyes, I've been having a bad day and suddenly melted into a puddle of smiley goo when my phone rang and it was the person I loved on the other line, I've had those fights and cried those tears and walked away and come back...I've done it all, and you probably have too, so if you don't want to watch two other people do that onscreen for two hours, that's fine, but I happen to like watching these movies and these stories because I know what it's like to be in those shoes, and it's the drama and the agony and the ecstasy that keep me coming back again and again (sometimes to the same movie dozens of times) because I get it. So this is a review of a love story, and if you don't want to watch it because you think you've seen it all before and movies like this are boring, and if that's the only criticism you can lodge against this movie, I remind you...no one is forcing you to watch it. Go watch "Apocalypse Now" in your corner and leave the rest of us alone.
So this is a love story featuring an angsty young man who is stuck in limbo, graduated from high school for a few years now but not in college yet, stuck in a small town working a dead-end job so he can look after his five year old nephew, because his hard-partying sister can't often be bothered to look after her own kid. Our angsty young man has a best friend who's off at college who only comes back to town every few months, and he also has an on-again off-again relationship with a girl he's known all his life, and he doesn't really know where his life is going or what he wants to do when it gets there. One day his best friend's older brother comes back into town and they strike up a friendship, the friendship deepens...and then it turns into something more. this freaks out the angsty young man, because WTF? When did this start? He swears he wasn't gay last week...must have been something he ate.
This is the thing about this movie. It's the same sweet/sappy love story as the rest of them, it just happens to be a love story about two men. Every time I watch it, I'm struck by how much I can relate to this movie. I, too, was stuck in limbo at a few points in my life, I have had friendships that developed into something more, and I also found myself in love with someone I never thought I'd be in love with...kissed someone I'd never thought I'd end up kissing, and woken up next to that person the following morning thinking "Oh shit, now what?" Suddenly, you're thinking things like "We can't hold hands in public, someone will see!" and "what will my friends think? What will my family think? Hell, what do I think?" Maybe this would all be easier if there weren't this expectation for him to be all manly and masculine and not, you know, show human emotion or anything, but underneath all this angst, I think one of the movie's greatest strengths is exactly what some people would call a weakness. Yes, this IS the same love story you've seen a million times before...and the fact that it features two same-sex characters falling for each other doesn't change much, does it? Maybe love is the same, no matter who is feeling it for who, and all the crap we pile up on people because of society's expectations for "real" love and "real" relationships doesn't matter as much as we think it does. Or it shouldn't. Because all this same angsty-sappy-lovey-dovey love is really a lot more alike than it is different after all.
In closing...yes, I love this movie. Does that make me less objective to be writing this review? I don't know, probably, but I never really understood why someone who hates a movie is somehow more objective than someone who loves said movie anyway. The song "More than This" by Shane Mack, which plays over a pivotal part of the movie, has a line that I think sums the whole movie up perfectly for me: If this is all we ever were / at least I've loved enough to hurt. It's funny how you sometimes don't realize that love is real until it hurts, but that's how it works, or at least it has for me. Characters in movies like this always seem to be trying to figure out if what they feel is really love. How do you know if love is real? Well, it punches you in the gut, it pulls the rug out from under you but it's also there to catch you when you fall, it's the best of times, it's the worst of times, it's all the love songs you've always heard rolled into a big ball of verbiage in your head, it's the hardest thing you've ever done and the greatest thing you've ever felt, and after all is said and done, it's always worth it, no matter how it may end. So here's to love, and here's to this movie for showing two characters falling in love, and you should check it out sometime. If you do, I hope you love it as much as I do.