11 August 2009

Talk to Her

Listening to: Frente!, "Bizarre Love Triangle." Apparently a cover but hey, I didn't listen to New Order so this is pretty much the original for me.

So I've been watching a lot of romance movies recently and noticed a really annoying thing. The moment when two people are falling in love is always inevitably done via musical montage. Four minutes of quick cuts and some bouncy indie song. This has been happening all over the place and I find the trend disturbing. For one, I like conversations that lead to liking and romance. For two, nobody falls in love like this. It's cute but so so fake.

I watched Manhattan for the first time and realized how much I missed love dialogue. Like it was five in the morning when we started the movie and I couldn't stop even though I was dead tired. Woody Allen and Diane Keaton shared a moment in the museum that could have had some music jammed in but because I got to hear their banter beforehand, it felt more like a moment. And lo and behold, no cutesy montage.

Compared to the other stuff I've been watching, their attraction felt real and honest. Like they'd earned it. With these other movies, it's sort of a generic running around some city streets, eating and laughing, a sunset (or sunrise) in the distance, and you end up not really understanding why these people like each other. Usually I'm like "Wait, they just hung out, they connected for three seconds, cued the music, and now they're destined for each other? What did I just miss? I cry bullshit! These people are not in love, they just have good editing and a must buy soundtrack."

Of course, I shouldn't be too harsh because writing dialogue that shows how two people could conceivably fall for each other in an exact moment must be terribly difficult. Some screenwriters have successfully done it but it's probably safer to go with the non-conversation. If you write a lame conversation you'd probably lose your audience pretty fast too. But think of all the amazing lines we would have missed out on in movie history if everyone had been lazy and just music-ed everything. ".....I think I'd miss you even if we'd never met."

The nice (and challenging) part of writing/reading a fall in love scene is that you can't skip over the talking. You need to use dialogue and action. There's no "they hung out for a day and then fell for each other." You have to show it, you have to prove it. I can't say I've ever written an amazing fall in love scene (yet), but when I do, I want it to stand alone. I don't want any actions or verbal cues, just straight talk. And if somehow that isn't realistic or convincing, then I've failed terribly.

Actually the counterpoint to my annoyance is that maybe the modern day montage more accurately depicts the first few moments of "oh man I like this person feeling" because really, no matter what they say, you'll probably like them anyway, right? Maybe this is the statement the montages are meant to make. When you first like someone, maybe you're only looking at their eyes or their lips, your brain isn't comprehending much of anything they're saying, and you're really just lost in the clouds. Why not use some music to approximate that feeling?

So a day at the zoo isn't about the conversation you have walking around and getting to know each other. It's really about sort of mumbling a few things, looking at each other from different angles, doing a few closeups of smiles and happy eyes, and then boom, connection. Track that out to a song and there you have it, l-o-v-e.

If that's the case, I better start carrying a boombox around with me, for those moments when I need to generate some mutual attraction. I'd get ready to hit play on the Frente! song. Well, maybe something more upbeat. And then I'd grab her hand and run somewhere. Anywhere.