Our air conditioning is out. Not a good thing In North Carolina. The prediction is for highs near 100 all week, so I hope we can get this fixed pronto! Meanwhile, I have my office ceiling fan on high speed, my hair up, my cooling Neckbandoo around my neck along with my portable mini-fan, but my computer glasses are still steaming up. I have a laptop I could take to Starbucks or the library, but I’m smack in the middle of revisions, and I’ve never been able to comfortably revise on a laptop, so I’m stuck. I feel terrible for Keeper and Jet, who are stuck here with me in their fur coats.
I thought I’d take a short break from revisions, though, to write about one of my pet peeves in movies and books. Have you ever seen a movie in which the writer tries to convince you that the characters are very much in love simply by showing (or telling) you that they make love often? A couple of nights ago, we watched an older film, The End of the Affair, with Julianne Moore and Ralph Fiennes. Although I like both these actors very much, I had a problem with the central premise of the movie–the supposed love story. The characters Moore and Fiennes portrayed were at it repeatedly, in various artfully-lit positions, but they didn’t do much in the way of talking (except to express jealousy and distrust). Clearly, though, we were meant to believe the love they shared was the deepest of the deep. Undying. The sort you’d make great sacrifices for. Am I the only person who doesn’t find this believable or am I just getting too old and jaded? I think the challenge for a writer who wants to show deep love between two characters, whether in a novel or a film, is to move way beyond sex scenes. Showing the development of a relationship and all the levels of communication that entails, while keeping the story entertaining, is difficult, but a relationship based solely on sex, as most of us know, usually has a short shelf life. (I need to add that this movie is based on a novel by Graham Greene, which I haven’t read.)
Here are a couple of examples of deep love between characters that I really bought into–hook, line and sinker–as a viewer. Karen Blixen and Denys Finch Hatton in Out of Africa and at the complete other end of the spectrum, Ross and Rachel in Friends.
I’m curious to hear what you think. What makes you believe that two fictional people have a lasting love between them? Can you think of examples where the writer, in film or book form, pulled this off especially well (or not)?
While you’re thinking about that, I’ll be calling the air conditioning company.