I'm staying with a woman who is a filmmaker and it's great spending time with her because we can talk about films, one of my favourite subjects.
When my friend asked me about my own film work I told her I've started a new draft of the feature film script I'm writing. She wanted to know what it's about and I gave her my one-sentence pitch:
A woman chooses independence over romantic love.
I only recently came to this conclusion myself. I've been working on this thing for years and I always thought it was about something else and because I didn't really know what that was, I was always writing in circles.
After dinner we watched a movie called Penelope, a little-seen film with Christina Ricci about a young woman who looks like a pig. It's a wonderful story. We all loved it.
When the movie was over, my friend said, "You know what that was about, don't you? A woman who chooses independence over romantic love."
"But she still gets the guy," I said, which was true. After Penelope finds a sense of herself she snags the so-sexy-it-hurts James McAvoy character, who accepts her as she is.
"So you really can have it all," said my friend.
We had decided earlier that day, after talking about the film I'm writing, that you can't have it all. It's one or the other.
But is it? Couldn't a person be really and truly independent and still be in a relationship?
Yes, there are certain compromises one has to make in order to make a relationship work but what about inter-dependence, the idea that two people can be independent together?
The movies rarely show this kind of couple. They show the falling in love, they show the honeymoon stage, they show the fireworks. They don't show the work it takes to stay together.
I would like to see more films that show the work aspect of love. The communication, the negotiation, the compromising, the couples therapy. Reality.
But we don't go to the movies to watch reality. We go to escape. We have a strong desire to believe in the perfect relationship otherwise there would be no such thing as a Hollywood ending.
There's nothing wrong with Hollywood endings. They're fantasies and fantasies make us feel good.
But the films that have stayed with me, the ones that have had the greatest impact are the ones with a realistic endings. I think of Five Easy Pieces, an unforgettable film with Jack Nicholson made in 1970. I won't ruin the ending if you haven't seen it but it's a crusher.
Maybe I will bow to pressure and let the woman and the man stay together in the film I'm writing. After all, Jane Austen gave her characters what she didn't have and look what happened for her.
Regardless, there is one thing I do know: if I desire independence I have to work for it, in or out of a relationship.
Inspiring Message of the Day: The real love I seek is self-love. Without it, no relationship is worth much.