Sorry to Say You’re a Bad Lay: The Lovers

Thanks to a knight in shining armor (literally, a friend who’s a metal worker), my Friday evening was salvaged, meaning good post film conversation on a balmy spring Floridian evening.

However, I’d like to hand out an award based on the film The Lovers I saw at Burns Court Friday evening. No, no, not to any actor or director, to the audience, including myself, who did not scream out, “God this movie is quiet and boring!” I mean really…what was Tracy Letts thinking? Tracey, you write better stuff as ideas on napkins! I have to chalk it up to one of two theories: 1. He was taking a money grab to help make one of his own passion projects or 2.He was just thrilled to play a Lothario.

Azazel Jacobs, writer and director of The Lovers, did a much better job on a previous film, Terri. If you’re going to make a ‘comedy’, you have to balance the squeamish with laughter which Terri did, probably because John C. Reilly could teach a master class on uncomfortable humor. The Lovers lacked a funny bone. Stupid, vapid parents are not funny, bad editing (like do I need to see Tracey roll up his car window?) not funny, and drama queens and kings, also, not funny.

I like Debra Winger, but her eye brow twisting is also not funny or endearing. I saw an exuberant review quote by Peter Travers in the Rolling Stone. I really have to look that up and read. I fear he’s received an overdose of edible medicinals because the only think I can think of combining this film with his magazine, is a literal rolling over the master tape of this film with a rolling stone.

The Lovers makes Norman look like Tolstoy, and that’s saying something.

Back to PPLL’s I go.

Whoa…Christine, from Sarasota no less

Warning….perhaps for the sensitive this movie (CHRISTINE 2016) should be seen in a matinee for a re-balance of post film light of day. I related way too much to the film’s topic due to experiences I have had as a mental health counselor and the chicken or egg toss up of social anxiety and dysfunctional upbringing.

The film’s subject matter is the suicide of a Sarasota reporter in the 1970’s. So first things first: bravo to Craig Stolovich, as a screenwriter you made me care about people even though I knew the bones of the story. And to Antonio Campos for braving probably a lot of, ‘nah don’t make that movie, it’s not ‘pretty’.

The absolute worst day of my life was in 1997 when a student at my school committed suicide. Some are resilient to withstand emotional and/or physical abuse, while others like Christine and my student, did not. Reconciling this took me years with which to come to grips. But I finally understood pain as relative and, try as we might, we can never fully understand another person’s plight.

I mentioned my litmus test for a great movie last month, that if a movie makes you feel differently, you know you’ve been affected….well, let me tell you…I was affected in spite of how amateurish CHRSTINE might appear, meaning were some B level actors and the film quality a purposeful tactic to make it feel like the 1970’s? Or was it budgetary?

Trust me, all of the acting was exceptional, most of all Rebecca Hall, Michael C. Hall and Tracy Letts. And I will plant my Oscar flag firmly right now for all three to receive nominations.

Here are other reasons I liked the movie: a 70’s soundtrack, still my favorite musical decade. Dialogue actually spoken by real humans. Acknowledgement of our weapon obsessed part of the world. Actual national news accounts of Christine’s ‘accident’ and political happenings like Nixon’s impeachment.

Strange coincidences or my odd quirky connections:
a. How odd that the reason I went to the film tonight was due to a cancellation of a birthday ice cream combined with the role ice cream therapy plays in this film.
b. Two recent comments; one by a fellow playwright tonight at a staged reading I attended before the movie AND a recent blog of a work colleague both challenging negative portrayals of mothers/parents. The former was regarding a staged reading of a play (not mine) in which a 20 something goes to her grandfather regarding an unwanted pregnancy for fear of her mom’s reaction. My fellow playwright’s critique was, “Nobody’s mom’s that bad.”….all I could hear was what a friend of mine says in his low, dubious low tone, “Right”. The latter was a book comparison blog, liking a more positive spin on family dysfunction, the too negative one being Hillbilly Elegy. And in all fairness to the blogger, while I haven’t read Hillbilly Elegy, I did hear that it was explicitly maudlin.
My point or connection here is that some ‘can’t handle the truth’, to steal a quote from another famous film. Not because they aren’t kind or lack empathy, but because they can’t imagine or don’t want to (who can blame them?) a world where parents don’t unconditionally love their children.
c. Families can do a job on a person’s self-esteem which the movie Christine alludes to. In fact, though 2/5ths of my family celebrated my birthday, a huge thank you to my mom and best friend, still the 3/5th absentees or ‘negators’ did stick with me, in part since the get together occurred within hours of viewing this film and therefore, freshest in my mind; a rather unceremonious or should I say, dis-ceremonious occasion where 85% of the conversation was upbraiding me for not flattering everyone else’s appetites, needs and desires.

In conclusion, may I just say, I am glad I have never owned a gun. Also, I thank God for my best friend Tim who has been the most recent decade long dependable, consistent, unwavering empathetic force in my life thus far. Perhaps the lack of physical intimacy makes this relationship possible, but who knows? The only romantic partnerships I’ve seen (not counting one, a couple I work with right now that seems perfect) have appeared to be compromising of at least one of the partners to be what the other partner wants. I bring this up due to the lack of connection the real life Christine felt with the understanding of her (and my own) frustration and self-defeating behavior.
Third, regarding public cinema etiquette: if you go to a movie with a date (couple who sat two rows ahead of me) and your date includes rubbing your girlfriend’s sock feet, then eating something with same hands, then continuing the foot rub; please either sit in the back row or hand me one of those handy bags the flight attendants pack for airline passengers with air sickness.