Much can be said for a real connection, the chemistry between two costars that creates a sort of synergy so powerful, it reaches out from the screen.
In romantic movies, it’s a requirement, and the bigger the better. Without that back and forth or cohesion — that spark between the male and female leads — rom-coms fail to launch and get stuck on the runaway spinning their tires in awkward fashion.
So what can be said for costars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence playing broken and dysfunctional characters so tragic, human, and most importantly, real? When they share the screen, they complement each other so well that when their characters are separated, there’s a void, a negative space filled with longing and loneliness.
To call Silver Linings Playbook a comedy feels a bit like misdirection — it’s actually a movie with characters and situations so real, humor comes naturally. And where there are humans and laughter, there is tragedy, failure, heartbreak, and the sorting out of the mess that we call relationships.
Poetic and resounding, Up in the Air hits the emotional notes emphatically.
The pitch-perfect and subtle nuances, the ebb and flow of the characters, and the technical craftsmanship of director/co-writer Jason Reitman combine to form a poignant story about relationships.
Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) jetsets from city to city as a sort of corporate hitman. Companies pay him top dollar to do the dirty work of firing employees. It’s strategic in a sense — the company brings in a ringer bearing the bad news, and Bingham has a way of turning negatives into logical positives.
His uncanny knack for getting into people’s personal space while remaining professionally distant comes from years of practice — he has no real relationships outside of work. He’s forsaken all human relationships for a life spent in the air with dreams of becoming a member of the airline’s prestigious 10-million frequent flyer mile program, a feat that will give him executive privileges and his name on the side of a plane.
Clint Eastwood stars as a racist Korean War veteran with a crusty exterior living in a neighborhood that’s rapidly changing with an influx of immigrants.
Estranged from his children, and the rest of the world, Walt Kowalski is anti-God, immigration, and change. He spends most of his days sitting on the porch, drinking PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon), and watching the world spin out of his control.
The familiar neighbors of days past have been replaced by Hmong immigrants, and the quiet streets have given way to gang violence. Times and culture have changed, and Kowalski’s sense of loyalty to country and self are at odds with others, even his son: “I worked in Ford for 50 years, and he sells Japanese cars.”
The only thing he loves is his cherished throwback to the good ol’ days, his ’72 Ford Gran Torino Sport.
Kowalski is white rural America, and Gran Torino is especially appropriate today after a bitter election in which the working class came out in droves to swing an election the media considered an against-all-odds longshot.
It’s easier to give people an example of a tragedy rather than trying to explain the definition of the word itself.
And it would almost be a disservice to just call Things We Lost in the Fire a movie about tragedies.
It’s a visceral experience, like going through a wringing process, feeling what the characters feel, and standing alongside them at the edge of a chasm overlooking an unknowable depth. It’s a movie about tremendous loss and losing sight in the face of fear only to find solace in knowing there are others out there struggling more than you.
It’s taut, emotional, and so intimate that you can’t help but feel like a prisoner to the scenes in which you can’t escape unless you turn off the movie and step outside for a break.
Some might call TWLitF a tearjerker, but that would be like calling a tornado a breeze – there are moments in this movie that are so painful and raw, it makes your insides hurt.