Each time I watch the trailer for Crazy, Stupid, Love I am, by the time Steve Carell turns to the beautiful Julianne Moore and whispers in cracking voice, “I should have fought for you,” a thickly-lidded, glistening-red-eyed trout.
So, maybe this line resonates with me for mucky reasons I won’t go into, but set against the crescendo of Muse’s pleading "I just wanted to hold you in my arms…" as Carell looks longingly at the wife he lost and didn’t fight for, it creases me. Creases me, I tells ya! (The movie did not have this soundtrack playing in the actual film, so I was able to retain some emotional restraint. Good job too, as I never have a hankie when I need one.)
“I should have fought for you.”
Do men fight anymore? Do they go for what they want? I’m not talking about another slice of pizza, or Stoli when they could have Grey Goose. I’m talking about putting in the effort, real effort to earn, retain, and nurture love. Or is a relationship more of a convenience item nowadays, a microwave ready meal, satisfying for five minutes, but then thrown away and out with the rubbish she goes? Is marriage such a ‘convenience’ that men shrug their collective shoulders and wait for something easier to come along? Someone you don’t actually have to engage in conversation, but who you can contentedly live along side, passionlessly, without conflict, but for leaving the goopey ice-cream scoop out on the kitchen side, sticking to the surface in its pool of congealed cream.
When does this relation erosion happen? When do you stop really caring about the minutia of your loved ones’ day. When do we stop asking questions? When does it get boring? And why do we allow it to happen?
Oh Lordy, has Eleanor been Chardonnay-blogging again? Nope, am in complete control of my faculties—just not my tears, apparently.
But back to the flick… the movie begins with a realistic enough premise: endearing 40-something Cal Weaver (Carell) is told by his teary, not unkind wife, Emily (Moore), she thinks they ought to get a divorce. And that she slept with another man. As she steers the Volvo and their relationship, she asks him, “When did you stop trying?” GAH! Gouge out my eyes!
Without much fuss, but rolling from their moving vehicle, he accepts it, moves out, and so begins the *jazz hands* comedy section of the movie. Enter tailored, trimmed, and groomed Ryan Gosling, or as I shall now refer to him, Ryan Oggling. Oh I oogled alright. It was hard not to. The movie makers milked that particular feature of the film. (Enjoy the gratuitous semi-clad photo.)
He is a Pick Up Artist, or, as I am learning from the fascinating, if not rather horrifying The Game by Neil Strauss, a ‘PUA.’ He has his routines: buy drink for The Mark, don’t reveal personal information, and make her talk about herself; interestingly, very different tactics from the ‘Neg’ (negative compliment), general neglect and alpha dominance employed by Style, Mystery and the PUA’s in The Game, but we’ll talk of that another time.
Jacob (Oogling) takes Cal under his wing, tailoring him without mercy. The clothes are a great disguise, as a well-put together Cal learns the tricks of the Pricks and tries to forget his wife of over 20 years. But it’s not that easy (Scarlett). Jacob encourages him to move on, to schmooze women, and fuck ‘em to oblivion. And like a Lemming, he goes along with it.
We all know someone who has been broken by divorce. Some of us know the couples, some of us pick sides—ouch—and some of us just want to smash the couple’s heads together. It’s hard to watch our friends flounder. It’s hard to feel ourselves fade as the unsaid slowly poisons us. In Cal we see this accepting, fading dolt and he is relatable, he is human and we love him and want him to find happiness (hopefully with Emily.)
But, what isn’t relatable is the onesidedness. We see very little of Emily Weaver’s internal struggle, bar a short phone call she makes just to hear Cal’s voice, her son commenting that he heard her crying and her confession of going to see Twilight on her own. We can, at least, feel for her about that. Without those brief nods to conscience, she would appear a hard-nosed slut. That is certainly how the children’s sweet babysitter sees her.
But I’d like this to be apology for Emily, because what the male screenwriter or perhaps brutal editor misses is her deep conflict, her certain doubts, her regrets and her emotional crippledom. She cannot tell him that she loves him, that she misses him and wishes he would fucking buck up his ideas and take her on a date and make her feel desired again. He alone has to come to that realization and risk it. Because if she takes his sweet goblin little face in her hands and tells him herself, then nothing would have really changed—she would just have been forcing it. And it’s back to the everyday complacent couplet. He has to be the one who not only admits that he should have fought for her, but he has to actually do it.
Really, Emily is pole-axed by her own courage, hopeful and yet hopeless by the way she has just sabotaged her cozy family vignette. Yet, from the movie, I didn’t pick up on much of that. I just know that that is how she would have felt.
No wonder she dresses like Daphne from Scooby Doo. She needs to scour for clues to find any grain of character justification.
Sound like diatribe? Well maybe it’s hit a nerve. Maybe I am mad (in the American sense, not the English—shit, who am I kidding, maybe both), but I finished reading David Nicholls One Day this week, I’m reading The Game, I watched C.S.L. and there’s a theme. Yes, reader. It’s people being too casual, too convenient, and not saying what they really mean. People not taking risks. Sure, if we always said what we meant, where would the mystery be? Wouldn’t we hurt people? Goodbye to the thrill of the chase! Yeah, piffle. You want mystery, read some Grisham—there are enough of them out there to keep you well suspended. If you are truly meant to be with someone, if you do really care for someone, oh dear God, man up (or woman up, as appropriate) and tell them! If they don’t feel the same at least you can get on with life, move to Brooklyn, and torture yourself thinking of the effort you should have made and how you will rectify this in the future. Because, *spoiler alert* like Emma Morley (One Day), you might be speeding into the arms of your beloved after 20 years of not saying what we readers have been waiting for, for 300 pages, and a wreckless lorry driver might slam into you and send you flying through the air as if you are playing a game of quidditch.
So there. That’s my non-chardonnayed take away. Don’t be casual. Be truthful, be honourable, be noble, be kind.
Fight for it.