Monday, August 20, 2012

Happily Ever After?

I’m both a romance writer and a romance reader, which is by way of saying I believe in HEA. I want people to be happy, which is why I prefer books that end with the hero and heroine wandering off into the sunset and their undeniably blissful life together. With movies, though, I sometimes wonder just how long-term that bliss really will be.

These thoughts were brought on by a clip from the climax of An Officer and a Gentleman. You remember the scene I mean. Richard Gere walks through the factory with Debra Winger in his arms. She has one of those face-splitting grins and the soundtrack plays a typical eighties anthem to show you that Everything Is All Right. And I found myself thinking, “I give it a couple of years, tops.” While I guess two volatile people could possibly make it work, my guess is in this case they wouldn’t—particularly when you throw in the pressures of a military marriage.

For some reason, I’m much more skeptical about movie characters than about book characters, maybe because I can actually see the people in movies and judge the way they interact. Yes, I know those characters are really actors, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re embodied at the moment and you can assess their compatibility just as you can in Real Life.

I’m really doubtful about the characters in Say Anything too, although I dearly love that movie. I can’t see that couple lasting very long. They’re too different, and their goals just aren’t compatible. In Casablanca, I’m sure Ilsa and Victor will have a long, distinguished marriage (assuming he survives the war), but I’m equally sure Rick and Ilsa wouldn’t have made it. Rick’s simply not HEA material. He’s better off with Louis.

To me, Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine in The Apartment have maybe a fifty-fifty chance. They have a lot in common, but she’s emotionally fragile and I have my doubts. Margo and Bill in All About Eve are also on the cusp—they’re clearly compatible, but she’s clearly someone who could blow sky high and he’s clearly someone who won’t take any crap.

So who’s going to make it? Nora Ephron (bless her) wrote movies about couples who are tight for life. Harry and Sally are going to be together until death parts them (and yes, I love the Funny Or Die version of Harry’s future life without Sally). The couple in You’ve Got Mail are equally compatible. Steve Martin and his astronomer in Roxanne are going to HEA—they’re both smart and ironic, and she appears to have gotten over her obsession with cute guys. Chili and Karen are going to be blissful in Get Shorty and so are Danny and Tess in Ocean’s Eleven, although it took them a failed marriage to get there. All of these couples fit together perfectly.

Now I should point out that I love all of these movies, even if I’m not exactly convinced some of these couples are going to be together for life. I’m perfectly willing to accept that they’re together at least for the length of the film. It’s just that sometimes real life intervenes—I’m convinced some couples just wouldn’t make it. And Rhett and Scarlett? Given the way I feel about her, to me that ending is HEA. At least as far as Rhett is concerned.

So what about you? What couples do you feel will be together when they’re old and gray and who will be hitting the road within an hour after the movie is over?


Cynthia D'Alba said...

I think your analysis is spot on.

Pretty Woman - that couple will never make. A former whore and rich guy? Nah. He'll tire of her past and all the questions in his head about her past guys.

The Proposal - Love Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds but I figured that couple will last about 6 months.

I've read some books (which will remain unnamed) where I rolled my eyes at the ending and thought...No Freaking Way!

Meg Benjamin said...

Forgot about Pretty Woman. Yeah, you're absolutely right!

PG Forte said...

You left out Sleepless in Seattle. Although, I guess I really shouldn't complain too loudly about that one. Relationships based on coincidence, third-party manipulation, and an unreasoning obsession that fails to take any practical considerations into account are pretty much my stock in trade. lmao