Anytime you view a film, be it a new one or an old favorite, your current situation/place in the world/outlook is going to color that film to some degree. Sometimes it totally rearranges your perception of the film in question.
I can think of nothing that alters your perception or attitude like a break-up though. I have friends who hate damn good films simply because they came out and were viewed directly after or in the middle of a painful split.
I recently was thrust into a rather unexpected and very painful break-up myself. And rather than simply mope around the house, whimpering in a catatonic state of despair, I resolved to do something with the whole process. The grief and pain is undoubtedly inescapable for some time. How can I wring some form of positivity or inspiration out of this debacle?
Oh, I know. I’ll subject myself to break-up movies and document the reaction. That’s got to be productive, right? Better than a bunch of pathetic sobbing. (Oh, who the hell are we kidding here? There was plenty of that as well). The question is, do I have the balls to work my way up to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? I’m inclined to say no. But we’ll see. Let the great experiment begin!
My first selection:
Husbands and Wives (1992)
Directed by Woody Allen
Starring: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Judy Davis, Sydney Pollack, Juliette Lewis, Liam Neeson
Catharsis Factor: 5
Too Close To Home Factor: 2.5
This is one of a few Woody Allen films I hadn’t seen. It had been floating around my Instant Netflix queue so I figured, “what better time to dive into this one?”
The film really wastes no time, opening with Sydney Pollack (Jack) and his wife, Judy Davis (Sally) arriving at Woody’s for a dinner date, only to very calmly and casually explain that they’re separating. This inspires a very Woody-esque freak out between him and Judy (Mia Farrow) as they try to make sense of this news.
I was struck by the oddly serene nature of the announcement. I mean, I’ve achieved that sort of peace with a split before, but never right off the bat. And certainly not with this rubbish I’m dealing with now. “How neat,” I thought. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to trudge through something like that so effortlessly? Maybe it’s because they’re older?
Turns out, no. The situation is anything but serene, and there’s a fair amount of delusion on both sides. It’s all going to be fun single games and exploration until the other engages in that behavior. We see the sting set in for both Jack and Sally as each one starts to go after other people.
At this point, the film is producing an interestingly calm sensation in me. Watching Jack and Sally almost compete to see who can find love/companionship again first is slightly triggering my gag-reflex as it forces me to overlay these events onto my own situation. But the effective mix of humor and realism on display here is somehow comforting two days into my new hellish reality.
It’s at this point that I remember why watching new movies, or even older films that you’ve just never seen before, is a horrible idea when going through something like this. And especially when said film contains subject matter like this. You just can’t concentrate at all. Fuck me. Why didn’t I just watch The Fountain again? Oh… right.
I’m still watching the film at this point (it’s too good to turn off), but my mind is helplessly elsewhere. I paid attention as best I could, but to be honest, by the next morning I’d forgotten most of what took place after the rout at Jack and Sally’s place. Surely the Tylenol PM I was taking so that I could sleep wasn’t helping.
I did enjoy it though, and it’s definitely going to deserve a rewatch when I’m in better spirits and can actually follow the damned thing through to the end. For now, it’s a slightly satisfying yet dissapointing attempt at a very odd and personal experiment. Well, satisfying for me anyhow. I’m not exactly sure how interesting/boring this self-indulgent writing has been.
Have any of you totally blown an initial viewing of a film due to similar circumstances? Feel free to comment below or on the boards.