Love is a Many Googled Thing
by Chiron O'Keefe
Like many, I'm a sucker for a great love story. Unlike most, I'm also bored and impatient with many a romance. Weird, I know. Sweeping sagas leave me yawning. Tender stories of romance often have me fidgeting in my seat. Sure, I watched Love Story. Once. Never again.
What hits me where it counts are stories that are somehow unique. Although I'll admit right off for a preference for romantic comedies, I also love a tale that tickles my curiosity. Makes me think, "What if…?"
With that in mind here are my picks for fave quirky love stories. Sweet, sensual, silly, or just strange.
Harold and Maude
Twisted, morbid and unbearably sweet, this flick was my introduction to quirky love stories. Produced in 1971 by Hal Ashby, and starring Bud Cort as Harold, a teenager obsessed with death who has a penchant for staging fake suicides, often timed to coincide with his mother's relentless attempts to fix him up with a 'nice girl'. When he meets Maude (played by Ruth Gordon) at a funeral, she introduces him to a world ripe with music and art. They fall in love much to the dismay of his conservative mother.
The two lovers can also be seen to represent the angst of youth—feeling lost and without purpose or meaning, as opposed to the heartfelt appreciation and deliberate optimism experienced by a generation who survived the horrors of the Depression and the Holocaust. Fascinating, tender and very, very strange.
The next film qualifies as weird and wonderful as well.
Truly, Madly, Deeply
Nothing can be more heartbreaking than the untimely death of the love of your life. It's no surprise such a tragedy would leave a person grief-stricken, paralyzed by sorrow and unable to let go and move on. When the ghost of her dead lover appears, Nina (Juliet Stevenson) is ecstatic. Their life together is not lost after all. What makes this film unique is how the eternal 'what if' is explored. What if your dead lover did return? He's a ghost, after all.
Jamie (the always brilliant Alan Rickman) is back but he's not flesh and blood. He also has friends. Dead ones. Who like nothing better than to plop their clammy ectoplasmic butts on the sofa and watch classic movies endlessly. This movie has heart, chuckles and more than a few tears.
Usually when people think of the movie Tootsie, the focus is on the fact that Dustin Hoffman Plays A Woman. *gasp!* What makes this eligible for the 'most unusual' list is the fact that the lead characters, Julie Nichols (played by Jessica Lange) and Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) fell in love while Michael was dressed up as the fictional Dorothy Michaels. Ever wonder if your mate would love you if you were someone else? Michael discovered she would, only problem is his intended mate is not a lesbian (which is convenient since he's not really a woman) and she has no clue who the heck Michael Dorsey really is.
Throw in the uproarious performances by Dabney Coleman as the ultra sexist director and boyfriend of Julie, the strange but wonderful Bill Murray, the sweet and inconvenient crush Julie's dad (Charles Durning) has on Dorothy, not to mention Terri Garr as the friend Michael coached for the role he then stole while dressed as Dorothy, and you have a madcap, screwball comedy wrapped around a tender love story. Brilliant!
Speaking of Bill Murray, he shines as Jeff Slater, the oddball writer who is Michael's (and Dorothy's) roommate:
Topping my list of quirky Love Stories is Lars and the Real Girl.
Ryan Gosling stars as Lars Lindstrom, a man who is socially dysfunctional. Unable to even join his brother and wife for a meal, he stays secluded in his garage until the day he brings his new girlfriend over to meet them. The one snag in his sudden and unexpected sociability is the fact that Bianca, his lady love, just happens to be a manufactured doll.
Although (Spoiler Alert) there is no happily ever after for Bianca and Lars, the journey of Lars is a different kind of love story. It's been said a good relationship isn't possible unless a person loves himself first. Otherwise all we end up doing is projecting expectations outward until our lover does or says something to shatter the illusion at which point we 'fall' out of love as quickly as we fell in. When one is so shy even casual interactions are impossible, the real relationship that needs to occur is with oneself. Yup. We have to love our self before we can love another. When Lars first brings his girl around, the reaction is as expected. People are appalled. Lars has finally cracked. However, a strange thing happens.
While Lars is on his own path to self-acceptance, others begin their own journeys. Our hero's sweet-natured acceptance of Bianca forces others to discover within themselves qualities of compassion and understanding previously unknown. In short, Bianca brings out the best in everyone and all who know her, come to love her. This is a love story that involves an entire community. In a weird way, Bianca is a healer who not only helped Lars to find himself, she opened the hearts and mind of everyone she encountered. I found this to be one of the best movies I've ever seen.
Now that I've shared a few of my top picks for quirky flicks, it's your turn. Which love stories did you find particularly unique?
Weekly Motivation for Writers at The Write Soul: http://www.chironokeefe.blogspot.com/