Tuesday, November 11, 2008

a near obsession - explained

I am not sure why this happens to me but every once in a while, I'll come across a movie that I simply cannot stop watching. The latest in this list of always watchable films: The Holiday. My husband and my boys make fun of me for this but then again, they will almost always stop on Gladiator and watch that movie whenever its on cable so I think we're even.

In case you don't know the movie, you probably don't need to know much more than this: Cameron Diaz, Jack Black, Kate Winslet, Jude Law. Two broken hearts, Cameron and Kate, find each other online, trade houses for Christmas, and travel across the world to spend time alone, get out of their typical surroundings, and heal themselves. Cameron finds herself in Surrey, England while Kate gets dropped off in front of Cameron's amazing home in what has to Beverly Hills.

Surprise! They each find a new (true) love waiting in that whole new world. (Okay. Yes, a chick flick for lack of a better term, although I think that sells movies like this short. I'm sure men like at least a few of them, too, but are reluctant to admit it for fear of a sensitivity or 'soft side' alarm going off.)

So why the obsession? As I said, I haven't quite figured this out but here's my theory: there is something extremely attractive and sort of seductive about the concept of abandoning your own semi-troubled life, taking up somewhere new, and trying on a whole new person in the process. Not forever and not in a scary kind of place. Someplace where you can settle in fairly easily but be open to new experiences. Not one of us can really do this - not really, not matter how often women's magazines tell us to reinvent our lives - but it feels almost like you can trade your life for another when you watch this movie. I can't spend Christmas in Surrey but I can watch Cameron's character do it and pretend her experiences are my own.

For me, this movie holds another magic moment beyond the actual 'escape from your life' scenario: Kate's cottage in the lovely, winter-kissed countryside, complete with gate that opens onto the walkway, that leads into a living room complete with a cracking fireplace, overstuffed furniture and a comfy looking bed.

I must have spent time in England in another life because I'm a sucker for almost anything having to do with English charm. And Kate's cottage oozes quaint, cozy charm. It's adorable and it certainly doesn't hurt that Jude Law shows up at the door in the middle of the night.

But honestly, there is almost nothing all that surprising in this movie so how can it continue to draw me in time after time? (And by the way, not just me. I know at least two other women who feel the same way about this movie.)

It has to be the vicarious mood this picture creates, that feeling it creates within viewers like me that even if I'm only just watching someone on an adventure like this, it's almost like having it yourself. This idea basically builds on a previous post of mine, where I discussed the oft-mentioned "luxury" wish most women have about spending time on their own, away from their everyday lives. In this case, they get away, they reinvent themselves a tiny little bit, and happen to also find the men of their dreams along the way.

For me, meeting another man isn't part of the "getting away from it all" fantasy. But being somewhere unfamiliar but comfortable, spending time alone, finding some days or weeks just be and do and think and dream and wonder - that would be a dream come true.

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