Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Imagine Me & You
I think it's important for the public mainstream to see a different side of the homosexual stereotypes that they typically see in the media. Movies like Brokeback Mountain pave the way for Hollywood films that present a gay community capable of genuine love. Of course, these kinds of films are still subject to interpretation and scrutiny by both sides of the fence - those who proclaim that being gay is "not normal" and those who suggest that being gay is simply "not common" but is indeed normal for the "uncommon".
The scrutiny can be brutal. Those uncomfortable with gay themes may complain that a movie is "too gay". Those proud of such themes may complain that a movie is "not gay enough".
I recently watched a special screening copy of a movie called "Imagine Me & You" (which is now out on DVD yesterday, Tuesday June 27th) and my critique of it is that it's "not realistic enough" . . . .
As I watched this film, I kept having the same thought throughout the entire movie: was this movie written by a straight person?
Spoiler warning: Don't continue reading if you intend on watching the film yourself! I'm about to unpack the movie.
In a nutshell, girl marries guy - girl sees other girl during wedding ceremony - girls become friends while guy is clueless - girls realize they're in love - guy finds himself single again.
The movie is about a beautiful woman, Rachel (played by Piper Perabo), who marries her super hottie guy best friend and lover, Heck (played by Matthew Goode - who by the way is absolutely adorable in every scene), and as she is walking down the aisle catches a brief glance at the wedding's florist, Luce (played by Lena Headey), somene she had never known before. At the reception they have one conversation at the punch bowl and from then on they are both drawn to each other. Rachel invites Luce over for dinner with her new husband Heck, along with Heck's best friend and horn-dog hottie Cooper (played by Darren Boyd). In time, Rachel and Luce develop a friendship at the encouragement of Heck. Luce is unapologetic about being a lesbian. Rachel has moments of resistance to the feelings she's noticing towards her new friend. Heck is apparently clueless that Luce could ever steal his new bride away from him. The movie proceeds with banter, romance and bad gay jokes. By the time Rachel embraces her love for Luce, realizing that the first glance the two shared during her wedding ceremony was actually "love-at-first-sight", Heck is heart-broken and the two women live happily ever after.
Almost makes the die-hard romantics sigh and "awww". Almost. This movie was full of scenes that even this hopeless romantic couldn't buy into:
**At the very beginning of the movie, Rachel is seen very excited about the wedding. However, during the ceremony, she is distracted by a moment's glance with a woman she had never even met WHILE she is walking down the aisle to marry her best friend and lover of many years. If she was so excited about this milestone event in her life and in their relationship, wouldn't she be more focussed on the guy at the end of the aisle?
**There is no indication that Rachel is a lesbian or is "in the closet" or is even bisexual. All that we are presented with is that she loves Heck. So is the concept here that a heterosexual woman can easily fall in love with a woman if it happens to be "love at first sight"? Is that how it happens? Even if she was simply curious about being with a woman, why would Rachel be so distracted by Luce considering that Rachel is a newlywed? She literally just got married. Did the "high" of getting married wear off while she was walking down the aisle? Did she not even enter a honeymoon stage? By the way, did they even go on a honeymoon? I didn't see that they did. The scene after the wedding reception is of Rachel going to Luce's flower shop to invite her over to dinner. A woman she had never met before the wedding!
**Maybe this story line would seem a little more realistic if they showed Rachel and Heck having been married for several years and their relationship was on the fritz. That could explain why Rachel would be looking outside the marriage. Maybe it'd seem more realistic if we saw that Rachel questioned her sexuality in the past. That could explain how a "love-at-first-sight" experience with another woman could serve as such a distraction for her.
**Even if we consider the possibility that maybe she didn't realize that she's lesbian or bisexual until that moment (as is the case for some in our community who don't "come out to themselves" until later in life), how can that hijack her feelings towards Heck? Unless she really wasn't in love with him. But that's not what we're led to believe in this movie. She does love him. Oh yeah, and they're still having sex! But at the same time, she's mesmerized by this woman she's only starting to get to know. But it's love at first sight so it's okay, it could happen.
I don't buy it. There's more that I don't get about this movie.
**Before she arrived to the chapel, why was Heck worried that Rachel wouldn't show up to the wedding? Where were his doubts stemming from?
**At the reception, why was the florist mingling with the bride and other guests? And dancing too?
**When Luce came over for dinner with Rachel and Heck, along with Heck's hottie horn-dog best friend Cooper (because Rachel was trying to fix Luce up with Cooper), Luce openly told Heck that she was a lesbian. Later, in the grocery store, they have fun with trying to figure out if Luce had a girlfriend and they discover that she is single. So why would Heck encourage Rachel to develop this friendship with Luce? Why would he ask Luce to escort his wife to a sporting event in his absence? Was he so confident in his relationship with his wife (even though he says later in the movie that he wasn't sure if she'd show up to the wedding) that Luce posed no threat? I notice he didn't have his best friend take her to the game. Horny guy Cooper might steal Rachel away but not lovely lesbian Luce? Heck is absolutely adorable but is he clueless?
**Rachel experiences some confusion about the feelings she's developing towards Luce so she decides to over compensate by bringing Heck into the woods late at night to get frisky - not in the privacy of their own home or in the comfort of their own bed but in the woods. They are interrupted by the sound of two men behind a tree "getting it on". The four introduce each other and they reveal that the two gay men had only met each other that night in contrast to Heck and Rachel who were married - all four in the woods to find a private moment? So the depiction here is that two gay men will have a fling in the dark woods after meeting each other for the first time but two women (a lesbian and a we-don't-know-what) can fall in love after seeing each other for the first time? I know both scenarios happen but what's the message here?
**Heck quits his job and gets drunk. Rachel happens to be nervous at home ready to tell Heck about Luce. So when Heck gets home, obviously drunk, she still uses that opportunity to confess to Heck about something this important - that her affection is divided. Wouldn't it make sense for her to tell him while he's sober? It turns out that he does hear what she's saying but pretends to be asleep. And so later, Heck doesn't realize or suspect that Luce is the one Rachel was confessing about? He really is clueless!
**In fact, Cooper figures out that it was Luce before Heck does. And as much as a horny-dog that Cooper is presented as being, someone who will sleep around uncommitted with anyone and anything unapologetically, he goes to Luce judging her and calling her a slut? What the hell was that all about?
**When all the cards are laid out, everyone knows about everyone, Heck is willing to simply step aside so that Rachel can embrace her "true love". Where's the anger? Where's the fighting for her? Where's the discussion about the fact that they were actually and still married?
I understand that this movie was meant to be a romantic comedy. But it's poorly written, poorly directed and poorly produced. There were parts of the movie where scenes seemed to be missing. There were scenes where actors just didn't seem believable. There wasn't enough character development. There were numerous stupid gay jokes, inferences and stereotypes. It really does seem like a straight person was trying to write a gay love story.
Okay, so I appreciate the attempt at illustrating how a gay romance can occur just like a straight romance can. I believe gay people can genuinely fall in love too. But the thing that this movie lacked was a realistic presentation of the social dynamics involved with a gay theme. The concept of the movie may have worked if the bride fell in love with the best man or even another man. It would fit in a heterosexual context. However, this movie failed to depict the social complexities of being and/or figuring out if one is gay or lesbian and the social consequences we have to live with for choosing this kind of a relationship while severing a heterosexual marriage.
The more troubling thing about this movie to me was that there seemed to be no acknowledgement of the wedding vows that were recently made. I like being able to see a lesbian couple in love but why was it important to illustrate it in the context of breaking up a marriage? Personally, I would have rather seen Rachel call off the wedding and eventually end up with her true love than to see her enter this marriage, commit adultery and leave her husband.
"Imagine Me & You". Sounds romantic.
In a time when people are shouting from the roof tops that gay marriage will threaten the institution of marriage, we don't need a movie that shows that it's okay for a gay or lesbian relationship to break up a marriage commitment simply in the name of "true love". What we need is a movie that shows that it's okay for a gay or lesbian relationship to honor their "true love" for one another by sharing a marriage commitment.
Now that is something to "imagine".