In the past few weeks, Steve and I have seen three movies that made us really uncomfortable in different ways. The King’s Speech…really, didn’t you just sit on the edge of your seat, wanting to whisper/urge/yell him to get his words out? Cringing. And didn’t you hold your breath at the end, waiting to see if he could do it? Then True Grit, where I spent half the movie with my hands over my face (I do not do violence in movies at all). At one point I wondered if I could escape to the lobby, but tried not to be a sissy-pants and stuck it out, peeking through my fingers. This weekend we saw Blue Valentine, knowing it was about a crumbling marriage, and that it would be depressing and icky, but it had the word “valentine” in it, and blue is my favorite color, and we saw the trailer where he plays the ukelele and she tap dances, so how bad could it be?
It was exhausting. But you know, it wasn’t the story, or the acting that made me uncomfortable. It was the cinematography. It was brilliant. Every scene looking back was shot handheld, and every scene in the present was shot at an extreme close up. No long shots at all, providing no context, no real view of where they were, or their environment. You have no real sense of their home, just their kitchen table, or their roads, just their hands and faces as they drive. You don’t have a sense of their town, or where they are going for their overnight (the Poconos?).
As we talked about the movie on the way home (and the next day), we talked about the danger of too much close up. And while I enjoy belly button gazing as much (or more) than the next person, the close up with out the long view doesn’t help in real life. We all need some long view, to be able to see context, to be able to see the path, to see the way in, out, around. To be able to breathe.
Steve thought the movie was about timing. They were both loving people, and they loved each other, but they couldn’t love the same way, or the same things at the same time.
I thought it was about the close up. And why the long view is necessary to any life, any marriage and any day. I think I need to try it more often.