Someday they’ll make a movie about the making of Titanic; an epic story of love and disaster, with an ice-berg called James Cameron and two plucky leads named Kate and Leo. Audiences will gasp at the scale of hubris involved in making a two hundred million dollar movie – and thrill to watch Kate and Leo battle ice-berg Cameron… braving PCP in the clam chowder, sub-zero waters and the shoot to end all careers! The movie will have a happy ending; Kate and Leo survive. But what will future audiences make of us – their forebears – will they grasp why we loved this movie so?
Love comes skipping and life makes a fist. So be careful. The new movie Revolutionary Road is about a woman (not a couple, as some reviews may claim) who life kicks the shit out of. Her tragedy is romance; she wants life, but she gets married. Not that the movie is anti-marriage, or that the man she marries isn’t good to her; worse, it’s that she isn’t someone who should be married. Love fools her the way it fools everyone who winds up miserable or divorced, by saying: love will solve everything. But love is only the solution to wanting love. If you want something else…someone has to give.
This is a beauty and the beast story and it tells a hard truth: love does not redeem monsters. We’re so used to thinking of evil as an abhorrence or as something alluring that it’s easy to overlook the everyday middle-ground; that evil can be commonplace, that evil people go about their lives in the millions… that half of them (all of them?) are us. And if there are so many evil people then it stands to reason some people will love them. But love won’t undo anything. That’s what The Reader says. The best you can hope for, if you love an evil person, is that you’ll be honest with yourself, and admit there is evil. If not, what can you hope to learn?
Movie love stories are about memory, mostly. Think of Love Story, Annie Hall… even Titanic is about a recollected love affair. Why? Because we’re idiots, frankly. Most people can’t go five minutes without fondly remembering the previous four. In love, it’s times a million. Are we wrong? In what we remember: yes. But misremembering is part of what makes us human. If we all thought the same, we’d be ants. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind asks the age-old question: if you had your life to live over, would you live it differently? Its characters decide they wouldn’t. Their bad memories fade… Who’s to say what makes a “bad” memory anyway.