Friday, December 7, 2012

Middle Aged Love is Just More Interesting

Or at least it is in the movies.


Before someone goes all "well, all love stories are better in the movies! The producers are pandering to our lovesick hearts! yada yada yada", let me qualify my assertion.

In the traditional 20-something romantic comedy, the grab is the classic star crossed lovers scenario, and just like a Greek chorus, we are sitting in the audience fully aware that the only way life will improve for our characters is if they finally hook up. So, queue the music, bring down the lights, maybe add a horse chase or some great self-deprecating speech, and our characters finally realize they can make it together! Curtain up. Story over.

I should be clear: I do embrace the estrogen in my system, and I do identify with that occasional "yay! they can stop dating the wrong people and live happily together" attitude. At the end of the day, I am a romantic. I want to see the lovers end up together, or a resolution achieved, or--as in 500 Days of Summer--the broken hearted finally heal. Are these films realistic? Probably never. But they fulfill a need to see a happy ending for people in that same stage of life as we are in.

But the middle aged love story is just so much more layered; characters are richer, lives more interesting, the dynamics of desire so much more obvious. In a way, the stakes are higher for the main characters in a middle aged-love story--after all, this is likely the second chance at life and love. And yet, because of that very truth, the games are strangely absent (or at least way less complicated). In that cinematic middle aged love affair, the characters aren't delusional enough to believe that every new man or woman is the ONE. The hunting mentality just isn't there.  We get to watch people spar and love in spades. With intelligent dialogue. All that breeds authenticity. YES.

I could die very happy knowing that I had produced a screenplay like Something's Gotta Give. Will I ever? Very doubtful. But why do I feel that way? The character's love affair is damn funny. This is a story for romantics who appreciate things that are well-written, and have a splash of the ludicrous.  Both characters are stubborn, the actors themselves quite iconic, and the story feels authentic. And, armed with rapier wit, they develop a humorous, slightly combative, and complete honest affection for one another. The causal approach of their romance allows for a bit of frivolity, but the intricacies of their individual lives gloss the whole affair in the unforgettable. Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton strike gold. Comedic and romantic gold.

Another sterling example is It's Complicated, with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin.
Let's look at what makes this love triangle very memorable:

  1. Every character is grown up, and successful; I don't envy Meryl's shoes, I envy her kitchen. Her choices are a successful businessman or genius architect. Hmm.
  2. I never see her drunkenly sleeping with some cute guy she met over spring break, but I do see her getting her party on with STEVE MARTIN. You know, the guy from The Jerk? A step up? I think so.
  3. Situational comedy is the bread-and-butter of a film about blended families and multi-lovers. I mean, I buy the idea that hiding your knickers from your grown up kids shoulders more urgency then hiding them from your 20-something chick roommate.
So the moral of this whole post is really a bit vague. But I think I want to be Meryl Streep but date a guy with Jack Nicholson's humor?Yeah, I may have to get back to you on that one. Just put them in your Netflix queue.

Oh, and I should note: I quite like dating without the "benefits" of age, and am in no hurry to advance the timeline. ;)

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