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...And They Didn't Live Happily Ever After
by Tim Josephs

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If you're reading this I'm assuming you survived Valentine's Day intact and didn't drown in a sea of little candy hearts, greeting cards, and boxes of chocolate. And if you were lucky you didn't have to sit through a sappy movie or worse, a mind-numbing romantic comedy. Just like music, movies are jam packed with stories about love affairs, from the cutesy to the tragic and everything in between. Frankly I find the vast majority of them dreadfully boring. Unless it's a gay love story - which we're beginning to see more of lately - the tales just seem like ones we've seen a thousand times before.

But what about the love stories that never happen? Boy meets girl, they share some adventures/misadventures, and it looks like they're going to be together forever but then...it just doesn't happen. Although these are few and far between, I generally find them much more interesting.

There are a couple movies I thought of where although the
central characters don't get together in the movie, there's an implication they will after the credits start rolling. A film like GHOST TOWN, for example. After Pincus' second near-death accident, Gwen visits him at the dental office and when he tells her he can fix her smile, we can assume he's not just talking about her teeth.

THE WRESTLER also ends before the love story is rectified. Cassidy rushes to catch Randy before his match but is she there to stop him from killing himself or to profess her love for him or both? We're left wondering.

In THE PELICAN BRIEF Darby Shaw and Gray Grantham develop a close relationship as they run from the bad guys and at the end it sort of looks like something might happen - they stare longingly at each other as Darby heads for her plane - but that's as far as it goes.

The same can be said about Charlotte and Bob in LOST IN TRANSLATION, two lonely people who find each other and instantly seem to have
a connection. They're both married and there's a large age difference, but it still felt like it was inevitable that they'd get together. But the fact that they didn't made the film more interesting.

In THE VISITOR, as curmudgeon Walter gets more familiar with Tarek and his plight, he begins a friendship with his mother, Mouna. They share an apartment (and a bed) and appear to be developing feelings for one another. But before anything between them really develops, she goes back to Syria to be with her deported son.

Another film about two potential lovers from different worlds is WITNESS. How could Book and Rachel not get together? She nursed him back to health, he saw her sans frock, it was unavoidable, right? Well, not so fast. He's from the big city, she's from the country, and apparently it just couldn't be.

In EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, we have another couple of kids who look like against all odds (and the fact that the dude has
scissors for hands) they're going to make it. But thanks to the evil pressures of suburbia, it couldn't happen.

One of my favorite movies from the last several years is ONCE. This isn't a traditional love story at all and in fact, (contrary to some movie posters that showed the two leads holding hands), there's never any romance between them. Sure, he tries in the beginning but is quickly rebuffed as she is married. But instead of a typical clichéd Hollywood movie where you just know they'll get together in the end, they don't, not in that way. Over the course of the film they do develop a love for each other, but a platonic, friendly love, in addition to a love of their shared music.

As you can see, not a lot of examples of unrequited love stories in the movies. I'm sure I could've found many more examples in foreign films, but we Americans aren't usually satisfied unless love stories end with "they lived happily ever after," as dull as that often is.

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Movie Musings
Every other Tuesday

Thoughts, observations, conjectures, complaints about movies and mostly how they relate to me personally. If you're looking for something a little broader, try Ebert.


Other Columns
Other columns by Tim Josephs:

So Long 2013, and MatchFlickers!

The Season for Peace, Presents, & Puncture Wounds

Women are Once Again Kicking Ass

Chewing the Scenery

The Greatest President We Never Had

All Columns


Tim Josephs
Born to write (literally – much to the displeasure of his mother, he emerged with a pencil clutched in one tiny fist), Tim spends most of his days crafting epic monosyllabic poems, new comical titles to his favorite Beatles' songs (Hey, Dude), and angry letters to local businesses that have wronged him in some way. He's really an okay guy once you get to know him.


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If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Tim Josephs by clicking here.


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