You never know what you’re gonna get, when Older Daughter picks the Friday night flick. But I liked 500 Days of Summer a lot. Roger Ebert did too:
…so rarely in the movies do we find characters arguing for their aesthetic values. What does your average character played by an A-list star believe about truth and beauty?
Here is a rare movie that begins by telling us how it will end and is about how the hero has no idea why.
It wasn’t as cynical about the redemptive possibilities of True Love as I thought it would be, and it featured one of my favorite Alain de Botton books too: The Architecture of Happiness. We do have to build it, don’t we? And most times we do take our original inspiration from one source, and end up living with another. It had a nice, happy, not-totally-Hollywood ending: the possibility of love and happiness suddenly appears, for the re/dejected hero who’s been busy making other plans. But there’s no promise of “happily ever after.” He and we can live for now on possibility, just like young Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate (cleverly evoked in this film).
It joins my short list of favorite stories featuring greeting card writers. (Richard Ford’s Lay of the Land is the other.)
But what about True Love, and the One Right Person? That still sounds too Platonic for me, in the way of the Symposium:
Each of us when separated, having one side only, like a flat fish, is but the indenture of a man, and he is always looking for his other half…
And when one of them meets with his other half, the actual half of himself, whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and would not be out of the other’s sight, as I may say, even for a moment: these are the people who pass their whole lives together; yet they could not explain what they desire of one another. For the intense yearning which each of them has towards the other does not appear to be the desire of lover’s intercourse, but of something else which the soul of either evidently desires and cannot tell…
The “something else” Plato imagines is the eternal abstract essence of Beauty. Real love is more precise, particular, transient, and lower-case. Isn’t it? Tom loves what about Summer? “I love her smile, her hair, her knobby knees…” But also how she makes him feel like a better person, makes him happy enough to break into gleeful (Glee-full!) song and dance on the way to work. That feeling doesn’t last forever, but it’s a good one.
And that was a fun flick. “Ive just seen a face” is the beginning, and the end, and the beginning…