The movies in my mind

February 1, 2019

 

Manila — In the movie "Sweet Home Alabama," Reese Witherspoon has marched down the aisle to marry Patrick Dempsey when her lawyer came panting, showing her the divorce papers signed by her ex-husband Josh Lucas. The problem? She forgot to sign, which means she was still married to Josh.

 

After hesitating to sign the papers, she turned to her groom to say that they can't really marry each other, because, she said, "The truth is I gave my heart away a long time ago, my whole heart, and I never really got it back." The movie ended with Josh and Reese reprising their first kiss as kids under a thunderstorm, and their first exchange of words as childhood sweethearts under a lightning sky: "Why would you wanna marry me, anyhow?" "So I can kiss you anytime I want."

 

When I think of the romantic comedies I can re-watch anytime I want, this film climbs the charts, along with so many other movies, even new ones that come along. Of course, that list is crowded with the likes of "Notting Hill," because, who can forget film star Julia Roberts appealing to regular guy Hugh Grant that, "I'm also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her." 

 

We love how movies affect our lives and influence how we view our relationships. If some of us pulled a Reese or a Julia in our romantic adventures at some point, it means these films not only entertained us but they made a mark in the way we navigate our love life.

 

I share with friends - single and in relationships, married and unmarried alike - the leisure pursuit of watching romance films and romantic comedies as de-stressing rituals if we're at home and not somewhere else having some meals and drinks. Some watch these romcoms in between the streaming TV dramas and thrillers.

 

Our reasons are simple and practical: we love how they affect our lives and influence how we view our relationships. If some of us pulled a Reese or a Julia in our romantic adventures at some point, it means these films not only entertained us but they made a mark in the way we navigate our love life.

 

Indeed, our lives are affected by the movies we see because their impact is beyond their entertainment value. We love the things that are said by the characters; we treasure them and even make them our mantras. We believe that they can reflect real life even if they can be just fantasies.

 

They can be mushy like in “Love Actually” when Andrew Lincoln finally admitted to Keira Knightly his secret love for her through a placard presentation and a Christmas carol from a boombox to tell her, “To me, you are perfect,” which is the most discussed and parodied scenes of the film.

 

Or they can be too spot on such as in “When Harry Met Sally” when two friends, for all their love-hate exploits on each other, finally agreed that, “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

 

Some films can be cruel. “500 Days of Summer” starts with the narrator saying that this is a story of a boy and a girl, but it is not a love story, because in it, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tom falls in love with Zooey Deschanel as Summer, who dumps him. Tom was surprised when Summer said they have been living like Sid and Nancy for months, referring to real-life ill-fated lovers Sid Vicious of the punk rock band Sex Pistols and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen.

 

Tom said Sid stabbed Nancy seven times and hardly thinks he is Sid Vicious. "No, I'm Sid," says Summer, which made Tom realize the situation and walks out after he says, "Oh, so I'm Nancy?" But Tom got through it though, and in the end found Autumn.

 

I know it is not just the movies but the books we read that enliven our tired, cold hearts, or the books whose love stories are so powerful they turned them into movies. But don’t even get me started on Doctor Zhivago.

 

 

  

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Diana Mendoza is a longtime journalist based in Manila.

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