Sunday, August 27, 2006

Love and Marriage in Movies & Life

So, I divert from my usual banter about motherhood, and talk about the other M word that occupies our lives – Marriage.

I finally watched the rest of “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” last week, though I had watched the first part a few months ago. It was an interesting movie and I liked the irony of their relationship.

There’s a shootout scene at end. (Disclaimer: I’m a Gandhian and believe in nonviolence, so please don’t think I’m endorsing gun or violence here! I looked away during 40% of this movie) With their guns and ammunition, the shootout is well-choreographed. At one point, Angelina and Brad face each other and slide their arms through each other and fire away. They’re protecting each other’s backs. It is a visual that illustrates what marriage is. There are times you may want to kill your partner with your own hands, but in the end, you’ll take a bullet for them. Brad and Angelina's physical stance shows the integrated team work involved in order to survive. It should be the two against the outside world.

Unfortunately, I know a few marriages disintegrating right now. I have seen others vanish, leaving just the chalk outline, a drawing, a semblance of a “marriage” that was there and stopped existing at some point. The complexities and dynamics between two people are hidden to the outsiders. We can all speculate, but it needs to come from within them. I'll badly paraphrase a quote I once heard - one would never expect success in career to come immediately or without hard work. How come we expect a instant success in a marriage?

Two unique individuals come together with all their separate experiences and attitudes. Now they have to figure out how to make everything work. It won't be champagne and strawberries all the time, but the good moments should outweight the bad ones.

One of my favorite movies is “The Notebook.” I haven’t read the book, and I’m fine with it (yes, really I am). I adore this movie so much. First, it’s a total Hindi movie! Rich girl loves poor boy, but rich girl must marry rich boy out of familial duty and security. Yet, in the end, love conquers all. To further validate the Bollywoodesque qualities, the Hindi movie “Black” used the vehicle of a notebook to tell a story to someone who was incapacitated. Interesting.

Anyway, this movie makes me cry. Yes, I’m admitting to my readers sitting in Sri Lanka, Chile, Singapore and New York that this movie makes me bawl hysterically. To further demonstrate my sentimentality about this movie, I do not even need to be watching this movie to start crying. (Reminder: I am a moody Cancerian, so maybe this is not such a great feat).

What moves me is not the young romantic story, but the relationship between James Garner and Gena Rowland. In case you haven’t seen it, James reads “the notebook” story to his wife (Gena) who has Alzheimer’s. As he reads the story to her, she comes back to him. What I find touching is his dedication to her and how close their lives are tied. Because of the young Noah and Allie characters, you can recognize the older characters. When James Garner cries, he's crying for the young Allison he keeps in his heart, not the fragile old woman. Above all, it shows what the security of a good marriage means - having someone to hold you at your weakest moments.

A song that has always moved me is Natalie Merchant’s “My Beloved Wife.” Read the words, listen to her sing. When she sings, she chokes up at one point, feeling the pain of the husband. Between this song and the "Notebook" it seems so profound when two souls are so tied together they can step into death at the same time.

A few years ago, a colleague's elderly mother-in-law had cancer for a long time and was in a hospice. Her husband was always there to take care of her, although he was elderly himself. It was a struggle since she was a bit of a cranky old broad, and would only eat if he fed her. Obviously, it was taxing on everyone. Then the father-in-law had kidney problems and was admitted to the hospital on Friday. Meanwhile, at the hospice, the doctors were waiting for the wife to die, giving her a week to live. On Tuesday morning, the father-in-law suddenly passed away. Everyone was surprised and afraid to tell the mother. They did not have to tell her. Within 7 hours, the wife died. In a way, it seemed like a beautiful end to their marriage and their life. He left first, as if to welcome her and take care of her again.

Stories like this one or even Christopher and Dana Reeves story, it seems like marriages are conducted by powers beyond us. We can't understand why some are so harmonious while others are cacophonous and are destructive. So, we look to the movies, books and art to help us understand and maybe dwell upon the intricacies of relationships.


Lotus Reads said...


This doesn't have anything to do with your post, but I so wanted to write in to tell you how pleased I am to have discovered your blog. I shall comment some more when I have had a chance to explore your blog some more!

Ashini said...

Please do!! I love feedback and I like to know who my readers are.

Anonymous said...

this is not related to your post either but congrats!!!!!!! again :) I'm so proud of you!!

p.s. am i the only one that really didn't like the notebook? i have my reasons :)

have you seen the constant gardner? if you have, please post. if you haven't please watch and then post.

oh and please watch The Girl in the Cafe and post as well. I really really love that movie and I want you to see it and give me your opinion :)


Ashini said...

hey apple -
Yes, I saw "The Constant Gardner" and liked it a lot! I love Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz was very good (does she remind you of Kate Winslet or is that just me?). I loved the mechanism of telling a story so it appears one way and then like a curtain that's been lifted, you see the rest of the story.

I also liked "Girl in the Cafe," but my problem with it was it had the pace of "Lost in Translation."
I actually cannot give a fair review of this movie b/c I remember falling asleep during it (sorry, HBO was putting it on too late!). So I do need to watch it from the beg'g now.