I've managed to accidentally see a couple forgettable movies this year which I could probably count on one hand if I could just remember what they were. But last weekend my brother David recommended that I watch a movie on purpose.
We were discussing the infinite gory details of my week which had been one of those in which enough little things go wrong to make any one of them seem like a big deal, otherwise known as "being pecked to death by chickens". Concerned for my emotional health, David asked, "What are you going to do this weekend?" I thought resting to get rid of my cold a reasonable goal.
"On Saturday I'm going to mope. Sunday I'll teach Sunday school and then eat dinner at Aunt Lynne's." My brother in his infinite wisdom decided that an entire day devoted to moping might be a bit much.
"I could watch TV..." I volunteered. "Watching TV indiscriminately can be really depressing." He recommended that I rent a movie. "It will lend direction to your moping."
I doubted Blockbuster would carry either of the movies I've been wanting to see: You See Me Laughing or Be Here to Love Me. There was a third possibility too, a probably obscure documentary on Texas singer songwriters, the name of which I couldn't remember.
David emailed me to say that I had been correct on the unavailability of my preferred movies. In reality, a documentary probably offers less in the way of escape than fiction anyway, and perhaps especially a documentary about a manic depressive alcoholic musician.
Instead my brother recommended Secretary, which he described as "a great and weirdly romantic movie about a woman recently released from a mental hospital after treatment for self-mutilating tendencies and her new job as secretary for a successful attorney with a tendency toward angry disapproval." He's pretty sure he took that description from Netflix, but not surprisingly I don't have Netflix, so the verdict is still sort of out on that point.
I headed to Blockbuster: "Where do I find Secretary?" "The drama section." "Drama?!?! I'm not sure I actually need any more drama..." Shortly after I arrived home my friend Laurie came over and we started the movie. I explained that I always took my brother's advice in as much as I am able, but that I was wary this time, because the movie sounded depressing. "Oh no!" Laurie explained, "I like depressing movies. They make my life seem more normal!"
Obviously this is not a kid friendly movie. Even if you HAVE been looking for just the opportunity to discuss self mutilation and/or submission to men with your kids, this is probably not the discussion starter you're looking for. Unless of course your plan is actually to promote self mutilation, because for the main character in this movie self mutilation seems to serve a purpose, albeit a sort of disturbing one.
I learned a lot from this movie, or more to the point from discussing this movie with Laurie. This is what happens when you spend just over half your adult life married: you find out from a friend that the characters in disturbing movies are almost sort of semi-normal. You also find out that all kinds of other things that sound totally off the wall are almost sort of semi-semi normal, but that's beside the point.
All in all, I think both David and Laurie were right. It ends up being a decent sort of escape, because although neither character in the movie really has any positive personality traits, they end up "happily ever after" despite or even because of their particular bundle of issues. It's the type of movie that ends with "See? The both of them are a couple of freaks and yet they're happy within their lunacy or perhaps even because of it. I look like incredibly sane and positively well adjusted compared to them. I had no idea I was solid as a rock!