Sunday, April 10, 2005

50 First Dates and The Time Traveller's Wife

The other night I watched 50 First Dates, on a DVD borrowed from Whangarei District Libraries. (I don't have a TV, and my laptop screen is too small for watching films with subtitles or subtlety, and while Adam Sandler is off-putting, as one of the ET generation I have a soft spot for Drew Barrymore).

It is a very silly movie and I would hesitate to admit watching it, let alone recommend it except it has been in my thoughts all weekend, and I've ended up watching all the extras including the commentary. This is most surprising because I almost switched it off in the first 15 minutes because it was so interminably crass. It did improve, sporadically (with the aid of a couple of glasses of wine) into substantial moments of endearing tenderness.

I have come to the conclusion that what I like about 50 First Dates is how it reminds me of my current favourite book, The Time Traveller's Wife. I mean no insult to a book that does not have a single misplaced word, one-dimensional character or unnecessary scene between its covers. Unlike 50 First Dates which required a huge effort to suspend disbelief sufficiently to maintain anything but derision; Audrey Niffenegger so skillfully constructs an entirely believable scenario that when you rise for air between chapters you have to remind yourself it's not a true story. (And I think is Henry de Tamble -TTTW- is funnier than Henry Roth-FFD.)

But both book and film give a central character a distorted experience of time which, as a stop-motion film reveals the graceful unfurling of a flower, allows us to examine the unfurling of a relationship, and development of the characters, in detail. And what this time distortion device reveals is the transformative and sturdy power of consistent, thoughtful, deliberate, generous acts of kindness. Such actions are the basis of a love that can transcend the vagaries of time.

If you are in a hurry, I think you could get the gist of this in scenes 4, 5, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 18 of 50 First Dates. If however, you have the time I recommend, without qualification, The Time Traveller's Wife.

P.S. While I was searching for a good link for this post, I discovered that Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston bought the rights to TTTW and I imagine planned to star in the movie together. This terrifying prospect is mitigated by the recently demonstrated inability of Pitt and Anniston's love to transcend time, giving me hope that no Hollywood desecration is immanent.
...If I was casting the movie I would want John Cusack and Salma Hayek...

1 comment:

rachlovestheweb said...

Have you read "Bee Season"? I just finished it. Another good'un.