Thursday, January 26, 2012

Love Is a Leap

Does anyone besides me remember The Butcher's Wife (the trailer is too cute!)? It's a romantic comedy from the '90s starring Demi Moore and Jeff Daniels. Demi plays a clairvoyant named Marina who travels to New York City with her new husband, a butcher. Her husband is freaked about Marina's ability to see into the future, so he sends her to a psychiatrist played by Jeff Daniels. It has so many elements that I love in a story: charm, humor, a sense of community, destiny, clairvoyance, self-discovery, and love of course. It's what so many romcoms strive to achieve but never do.

There are tons of great lines in this film, but the one that's stuck in my head the most is "Love is a leap that won't be denied." TOTALLY CHEESY, I know, but it must have permanently affected my prepubescent brain, because I completely buy into that concept. Not necessarily in real life--the jury's still out on that one--but narratively? Heck yeah.

the butcher's wife

Think about it: how much does denial really build romantic tension in stories? Personally, I hate that trope, especially when the characters deny their attraction for no good reason. Then eventually all obstacles are removed and they still STILL deny it (I'm looking at you, Castle and Bones), because the writers are under the mistaken belief that if their characters don't get together, then all romantic tension will be lost.

The thing is, people in general want to do things to ensure their own happiness. And typically being in a loving relationship does equate to happiness on some level. Ipso facto, one expects characters to take the chance on love at some point no matter the obstacles, external or internal, put in their path. There comes a point where the dithering grows tiresome and they have to either leap or find new fuel for the fire, and if that point passes with no action on the characters' part, the "romantic tension" becomes bullshit no one can buy into anymore.

I think that's one of the things I like most about The Butcher's Wife--the characters leap. Sometimes in the wrong direction, but they take chances because they think it will make them happy. Occasionally I worry that we've become a society so afraid of taking chances, we're even too afraid to write about what might happen when you do.

What words of wisdom have you taken away from romantic comedies?


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