Monday, March 08, 2004

Martha Stewart, I presume?

The movie Something's Gotta Give is my second favorite Jack Nicholson movie since As Good As It Gets (there are others but they quickly disappear in the background in light of these two movies). There's a very good chemistry between the two mature leads, something you rarely see in the new lead actors and actresses these days. The story opens with successful record studio producer, Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson), giving us a low-down on women and his accomplishments with them. He's then seen driving with a young and gorgeous Marin (Amanda Peet) by his side on their way to a secluded beach house in the Hamptons. Enter Marin's mom Erica Barry (Diane Keaton), a divorced successful playwright, who discovers a complete stranger scavenging their fridge in his underwear. After a round of quick explanations and apologies they finally agreed to share the house that weekend along with Erica's sister Zoe (Frances McDormand). Things started to turn a tad interesting after Harry suffers a mild coronary prior to his intended dalliance with Marin. He was brought to the hospital where a young doctor named Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves) meets and falls for the much older Erica. He also advises Harry to either stay put in the hospital or stay somewhere near while he's put observation. During his forced stay at the Barry beach house, he discovers that Erica is not as uptight as she first made herself to be and Erica gets over his garish, immature ways and sees a sensitive, solicitous side to him. In between these discoveries, Julian tries his best to woo his dear playwright with smooth talks and lavish praises.

Eventually they fall in love for the first time in many years (she after 20 years and the first time for him). The delighted Marin breaks up with him to give way to her mother. Harry warns her though that there is a chance of him returning to his old ways after this affair, Erica nods in affirmation but hopes against hope that she has changed his mind and would consider monogamy. After Harry was well enough to travel back to the city and to his work, Erica was also called by her devastated daughter to the city to meet her ex-husband Dave's (Paul Michael Glaser) fiancée. In that meeting at the restaurant, she also discovers by accident Harry and his new young date. Devastated she confronts Harry, pours out her broken heart to him and retires back to the Hamptons to finish her play. After a series of attacks he slowed down and thought about his ways before deciding to set things right and go for what really matters the most in life.

This is one of the best romantic comedies I've ever watched. In some ways I can relate to all the characters' common dilemma: their insecurity with being in love. Diane Keaton's character's dressed all in white, hides in a white house, and surrounds herself with most things white before she fell for Harry. She covered most of her body prompting Harry to ask her, "What's with the turtlenecks? It's the middle of summer!" This obviously translates to her uptightness. She's an ice queen that's why she's wearing white. She covers her body with turtleneck sweaters, long skirts, and jackets because she feels that nobody's attracted to her. While Harry covers his insecurities with his inimitable charm, by drowning himself with work, endless parties, fast-paced lifestyle, and seducing young women. He feels that he has to always prove himself to feel a hint of worth. Marin has been burned by the divorce of her parents so she thinks that if she commits she will be hurt again and Julian looks up to older people for the maturity he thinks people his age lack.

Erica's advice to her daughter rings true, part of it asks something like, "What are you waiting for? Don't be afraid to love." The words rang with wisdom and courage coming from someone whose heart was broken more badly by someone she met recently than by her divorce to a man she spent decades with. It may also be a timely advice to a lot of us, especially me. What am I waiting for? The right person of course. I'm also heartened by the idea that long after one gives up on the idea of ever finding that special someone, you will eventually find true love in the unlikeliest persons, in the unlikeliest of places, and in the unlikeliest of times.

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