"It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Barney's Version

Barney's Version is a great film, but I question the way the wife is characterized by some reviewers as "a saint" rather than a doormat.

Barney pursues this woman who he claims he loved at first sight. He's so excited by his own reaction to her that he doesn't really care that much that it's not reciprocated. She tells him to leave her alone because it's his wedding day. He persists, and eventually wins her over. They dote on each other, but tensions erupt, well... bubble a bit, when she has some successes and he ignores them. When she does her first on-air interview, he misses is because he's busy watching hockey. She clarifies to him his actions, and he offers to sleep on the couch. She refuses - they will always sleep together. When she goes away for a few days, he's lost without her. The film suggests that shows just how much he loves her. She tolerates him being drunk and offensive to her friends and ignoring her successes. Then he makes a fatal mistake with another woman, and she ditches him. She's never exasperated with him. She's given in to the myth of love means never having to say your sorry - or some such nonsense. She accepts him for who he is. I suppose he's good company.

I hate that he has an affair because I wanted to see if she'd ever leave him without that one catch. To me, it was an easy out. The relationship sucked for her, but she was committed until he broke his vow. That gave her an opening. It's similar to one character's backstory in Adaptation in which the character's wife left him after a car accident. It gave her an excuse, an exit strategy.

I don't think this is love. This is a guy who needs arm candy, sex, and a caretaker. He has no interest in giving back to her. He'll buy her roses, but he won't be kind to her friends, nor will he stay sober to catch the highlights of her burgeoning career. Once he wins her over, he won't make the smallest efforts at kindness or let her shine. She's more of a pet he keeps than a partner he loves.

I wonder if the people that think this woman is the ideal wife just want to be able to have this type of one-sided relationship in which they get it all. They can be boorish and cruel yet get the girl because she's convinced to love means to tolerate crap. Male reviewers want to believe they can be out of shape and drunk and still be loved by a woman who takes over the boring parts of their lives for them. It's an ideal relationship only superficially. You can't really feel love without giving and being their for them and doing for them. Sure it's great to get a Christmas present or a bunch of them, but it's even better to have your own gift to another opened and appreciated - for someone to know they are loved and respected, not just wanted.

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