I saw this movie today after quite a long time.
In fact, the last time I saw this movie was with my wife at the movie theater when it was first released. At the time I can’t say that it made much of an impression on me, or my wife.
But more than that? Not quite.
And looking back after seeing the movie again today I’m not exactly sure why I felt that way…
Perhaps it was this initial kiss early in the movie that didn’t connect with either my wife or I.
To be sure in just about all movies, at one time or another, the audience is asked to suspend belief. Or, if not entirely suspend it at least “enter into” the worldview of the characters on the screen.
And that kiss seemed out of place.
Sure, it’s required to kick things off. But seeing it again all I can say is that it does seem to last too long, and seem out of place given the limited amount of time these two characters have been interacting.
Was she grateful?
Or just impulsive?
Anna herself gives us a clue, several times in fact. Jumping the fence to visit the private garden after leaving Will’s sister’s birthday dinner party. The scene in the restaurant when she confronts the four guys at the table, after Will tries to “defend her honor” — and later regrets the confrontation while walking with Will and saying how she is “rash and stupid.” And finally asking Will up to her room as they stand outside of her hotel (the Ritz).
So maybe the scene outside the Ritz is supposed to explain the kiss, or her state of mind prior to the kiss?
But is it only that? A moment of impulse and nothing more?
Or is it a response to something more than that, a faint recognition that something is “in the air” between them that gets confirmed later when she notices Will’s print of La Mariée while sitting in his apartment after getting reunited 6 months down the road (more on this later).
Why, for instance, do we connect with some people and not others?
Then, and now…
Context determines meaning, meaning for you and meaning for me. And certainly our reaction to art or film, and certainly for how we relate to certain characters at different times in our life.
In other words, where you are in your “life’s journey” when you see a particular movie will determine, to some degree, whether or not that movie connects with you, whether or not it “speaks” to you. And seeing this movie with my wife back then — either before or shortly after we got married — was a time that, for whatever reason, didn’t help us to resonate with the story.
For either of us.
But is that an indictment of the film?
And the answer is a resounding “NO.” Because seeing it today was truly a different experience then when I first saw it.
And surely there are reasons for that, some more tangible than others or more within reach. A recognition of just how fragile, and rare, true love really is. And how much chance seems to play a role in whether or not two people even meet in the first place, much less find the time or circumstance to connect on a deeper level.
Between chance and choice
In fact, it’s the scene where Will’s close friends all make their “announcements” that you get a sense of what, I believe, the film is really portraying, the reoccurring part that chance or “accident” seems to play in all our lives.
Or is it more than that, fate if you will?
And unseen force at work pulling people together, seemingly out of nowhere, to meet and have a chance at love?
My wife and I met on the campus of St. John’s University in New York, from two different sides of the globe. Literally. And the dawning recognition after our first meeting that we have more in common than not (like Anna seeing the print on Will’s apartment wall). That we might, in fact, “belong” together.
So a “chance” meeting brings two people together.
Anna walks in a bookstore, no big deal. Will crashes into Anna and spills OJ all over her top, and the understandable offer to help her clean up that kick starts all their future interactions.
That and the kiss, of course.
And then a whole series of near misses, close calls, surprises, the all-too-common experience of “life getting in the way” that can throw any of us off our game, cause second thoughts or doubts, make any guy think that a certain girl is “out of his league.”
And then a moment of choice.
Of daring to say “YES” to the improbable opportunity for love… even if (especially when) the “odds” seemed stacked against you and everyone thinks you’re crazy for taking that chance….
If this scene doesn’t move you, even a little bit, then your heart is made of stone…
Is this Julia Roberts’ finest hour (or 2:36)?
Well, Julia was brilliant in Erin Brockovich. A different character, to be sure.
But in this scene, which is so believable, so real, so heartfelt it is, for me at least, one of her finest onscreen moments EVER. The vulnerability etched so clearly in her expressions, manner of speaking, voice, tone, inflection and posture. It captures, imho, the essence of vulnerability that is required when a person opens up himself or herself to the “other,” an openness that is a prerequisite for authentic relationship, to experience the POSSIBILITY of love.
And this, ultimately, is what this movie means for me.
My 15th wedding anniversary is less than 2 months away, and my wife and I have shared, and grown, together. We’re not the same people we were when newly married, and thank goodness for that.
Because life doesn’t stand still — for anybody.
And sadly for some (most?), you rarely get a 2nd (or 3rd) chance to grow old with the one you love.