Last Sunday night, I rented the movie Becoming Jane. I watched it. I loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it. I read a review of it online, a disparaging review, that labeled the movie “victorian porn for American female audiences.” I’m not sure if I would use that exact words, but they may be on to something. And I want more of it! 🙂
Anyway, regardless of how much of the story is actually true, the movie itself is a great tale. It’s well crafted, well acted, and just an overall good movie, especially if you’re a person who enjoys watching women in empire-waisted dresses dance with men in long coats and tights at balls in long, formal lines. With classical music in the background. And where characters always bow/curtsey to each other when greeting and leaving. And where manners trump emotions. Yum.
Perhaps my favorite thing about the movie is its ending. (WARNING: If you don’t want to know what happens, don’t read on!) I turn into a quivering, weepy pile of jello whenever I see a movie where the hero and heroine are perfect for each other, but because of some Greater Good or because of Circumstances Beyond Their Control, they cannot be together. You are left knowing that they will always love each other, but they will not be able to be together, save for perhaps one romantic scene played out in the future with their elderly selves where little is said in words but much is said with the eyes.
I tried to come up with a list of some of my favorite movies along these lines, and here’s my list:
- Roman Holiday (this movie is far and away the finest non-happy ending romantic movie ever.)
- The Horse Whisperer (you could argue that since she goes back to her husband, she makes the right move, but I think it falls under the category of Circumstances Beyond One’s Control.)
- The Thorn Birds (although this movie arguably doesn’t belong on this list. See the paragraph below.)
- And … I’m blanking on other movies. Do you have any movies that you can think of that follow this pattern?
Remember, it’s not just non-happy ending movies in general that I’m talking about. It has to be romances with non-happy endings due to the Greater Good or because of Circumstances Beyond Their Control. I love the movie Gone With the Wind, but Scarlett and Rhett don’t end up together because of Scarlett’s own bullheadedness and selfishness. And there are plenty of other romantic movies with unhappy endings through the fault of the characters, but those don’t count. At least, they don’t count for this particular list.
I don’t know why the non-happy ending romantic movies appeal to me so much. Perhaps a part of me knows that life is like that sometimes. Things don’t always work out the way you had planned. It’s the rare couple that hasn’t experienced at least one heartbreak along the way, and I suspect it’s the rare single adult that hasn’t had a heartbreak of some kind, either. Disappointment in life and love is all a part of the human existence, and while I like being taken out of my own world when I watch a movie, sometimes watching a hunky-dory ending to a movie just doesn’t ring true for me. (Not always. Sometimes I want a sweet, happy ending, too. Nothing wrong with that once in a while!) But when the ending isn’t perfectly happy, when I can cry for the sadness the characters are experiencing — well, that seems more real to me, and I like that, too.
Besides, any excuse to have a therapeutic cry is a good thing!