"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

Movies about Affairs

I watched three excellent movies that, by chance, have a similar theme that affairs are terribly dangerous things yet sometimes necessary to preserve our sanity.

Broken Embraces

A poor woman (and sometimes prostitute) hooks up with an old rich guy for the purpose of getting her dad some medical care. He becomes obsessed with her and pretty much owns her. After some years, she has an affair with a man she really loves, so the old guy destroys the lover's career. This is a beautiful movie, and it's very easy to see how each character got swept up in their role. It's also all about filmmaking and writing, and the creative process in general with nods to Orson Wells.

Little Children

A bored housewife is married to a man weirdly obsessed with one specific internet porn character. The housewife hooks up with a stay-at-home dad. They have sex while discussing how pretty his wife is. What's with the mundane conversations during sex? That's not sexy. Maybe it's to show that their hearts aren't really in it. They reference Madame Bovary who also coped with a boring life by messing around. The affair here isn't out of love, it's just a coping mechanism, a way of distracting them from grieving a fantasy life cut short by children. So at the end the characters re-think it all even though their marriages are troubled at the outset. All the relationships are a bit messed up.

But this movie's really about perversion and desire. Many people on the street have different sexual desires. We are pretty accepting of some these days to the point that we admonish those who don't accept differences. Our desires aren't within our control, so they aren't to be questioned: homosexuality, transsexuality, pornography.... But we draw the line at pedophiles. Of course there's one on the street - the creepiest depiction of a pedophile ever (who was once the teen-hearthrob at the left there). And an ex-cop whose wife just left him becomes obsessed with harassing the guy. There's a good scene in a restaurant with the pedophile on a blind date with a woman who's on meds after a breakdown. They lament how people want you to just get better and be normal in the snap of their fingers. They connect in their knowledge that it doesn't work that way. Then he gets creepy again.

I Am Love

The main character (Emma - another nod to Flaubert) is a bored housewife in a very wealthy family empire. She hooks up with her son's friend as they connect over cooking. It reminded me loosely of Like Water for Chocolate because of all the scenes in the kitchen. I loved that Tilda Swinton looks like a real middle aged woman, yet is depicted as desirable.


Her son figures out what's happening in a scene very similar to a scene in Little Children where the unfaithful character's wife flashes back to all the little signs of the affair in the middle of a dinner party. He storms out of the party followed by the mom who shoves him, and he falls and dies. She grieves briefly, then uproots her life to be with her true love. She is understood solely by her lesbian daughter who has only come out of the closet to the brother who just died. The daughter gets that we have to follow our heart, not social convention.

I can totally believe someone would have a affair with someone much younger. But I can't believe she'd ditch her kids for him. They're pretty much grown up, but she really risks her relationship with them by doing this. The only one who was bothered by it, died, but that solves that problem in too tidy a way.

But what if your heart leads you away from your children, whom you also love? Does romance trump mothering? Or is that a selfish move? Little Children, the American film, suggests it's selfish. The other two (Spanish and Italian) suggest romance is all that really matters.

I lean towards the kids. I think I can live without romance. I'm not bored by being home because I also write and paint and do everything I would be doing without kids. I sometimes say my life would be better, but I think that's just an excuse for not doing enough with my day. Really, when all the kids are away, I'm not more social or productive than otherwise; I just putz around on-line. But then again I've never been loved like the women in these films.

Has anybody?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes. And it is the best, most beautiful and destructive thing.....