I've said a number of times, even in this blog, that with regard to movies, books, music, art, and other forms of entertainment that I ask four things. Make me laugh. Make me cry. Excite me. Make me think.
Achieve any two of those, and I'm a fan.
I saw Before Midnight today, and it effortlessly managed all four. It deserved every point of its 98 on the TomatoMeter. It may be the best of the three "Before" films because of its depth.
And damn did that depth excite me, and make me cry, and make me laugh ... and make me think.
I'm giving nothing away by saying that the movie presents problems for Jesse and Celine to overcome (or not), but it raised questions, too. The biggest of those for me focused on whether loving one person, as a partner in life, forever is even possible anymore.
It's become so easy to "love" someone for a little while and move on. Hell, I know folks who change girl/boyfriends like I change socks.
There's an old Gale Garnett song from way back in 1964 called "We'll Sing in the Sunshine."
I remember when that song came out. Since it was about two people being happy ... singing in the sunshine and laughing every day ... I, at the tender age of 7, thought it was a pretty doggone good idea.
Now, the song makes me sad because it clearly takes the position that folks should have the time of their lives for a while then move on down the line. I thought of that song while watching Before Midnight.
It mattered desperately to me what happened with Jesse and Celine, and tears spilled down my face rooting so hard for these fictional characters.
With a few hours distance I understand that my concern was more to retain my belief that lifetime love is still possible in the vacuum of cyberspace, with our smiles now for our cellphones.
And, hell, I'm the one to ask that question aren't I, he asks cynically? I've been divorced for twenty-six years now and haven't been with anyone since.
But I want to be.
I just don't know how anymore.
I am, however, willing to learn.
It wasn't the marriage that's kept me a loner this long. Oh, that was some of it, I suppose, but not the biggest factor.
I've ruined a couple of friendships by trying to take it to the next level. Both times, she oh-so-graciously and oh-so-kindly said something on the lines of "You honor me, but I can't feel that way for you."
And both times she found a way out of my life, wouldn't even stay my friend.
I don't ever want to lose a friend like that again. I value them too much.
I miss them both, you see, and feel like it was my fault for having dared suggest that we take our relationship one step farther. Quite obviously, that was what cost me their friendship.
"Rock," a friend told me after a couple of drinks. "Your problem is that you're a heterosexual dude completely in touch with your feminine side. That makes you a great friend, but a lousy prospect. With women, you have to be a man BEFORE you're their friend."
Hell, he has a point, I suppose.
At fifty-five, I might be too old to change that.
When I lived in LA, a gay friend of mine shook his head and declared, "You're a lesbian in the body of a man."
I guess I never learned how to be a man.
On the other hand, I don't have the looks or the body or the youth to walk up to a stranger or even casual acquaintance and ask them out. I've tried that, too, and, after the kind and considerate declines, walked away feeling like a puppy who isn't quite cute enough for a home.
Without spoiling the movie for you, let me just say that I was rooting for lifetime love so much more than the characters.
Even after all these years I believe in it, would be willing to work hard to make it happen.
I just need the other half of the equation, to BE the other half of someone's equation.
And it'll happen.
At some point I'll find someone wonderful who will allow me to share my life with her and be willing to share her life with me.
I just have to have my eyes open and to Remember Sam, Before Midnight.
I am, after all, a hopeful romantic. :-)