Monday, May 16, 2011

cinema verite

after a really long saturday that involved driving to all corners of the Bay Area, zack and I were both in the mood to relax and do something a bit mindless. we found the nearest movie theater in san francisco (bonus! you can buy a beer and bring it into the theater, which lets you pretend like you're in Europe) and went in to buy tickets. Forgetting that this was san francisco, the city where selling PBR at any event means a guaranteed sell-out to flannel-wearing hipsters, we realized that we had no shot at getting in and walked down to the decidedly less-cool AMC. Two tickets to Bridesmaids, a chocolate chip ice cream thing, and a medium popcorn later, and we're good to go. (Okay, and some peanut M&Ms. Go ahead and judge us.)

We laughed, a ton, and were glad for something funny after that hectic day. It is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen, and I've seen Left Behind. (Actually, I haven't seen Left Behind. I just thought that was a funny joke.) I'm such a fan of any time we can remember that women are totally funny - and not as sidekicks to men, and not as someone's wife or girlfriend, but as lead actors in a big studio movie. Women are funny, and we don't get to see that enough. (The airplane scene in the movie is worth the price of admission alone.)

But the thing that really, surprisingly, got to me about Bridesmaids was its touching and totally accurate portrayal of female friendships. (This may apply to guys as well - not being one, I wouldn't know.)

Without giving too much away, it's safe to share that a big part of what drives the movie is the friendship between Kristen Wigg and Maya Rudolph (I cannot remember movie character names, so don't even ask. It's my fatal flaw.) Maya's gotten engaged, and has this new WASPy friend, and Kristen's business has closed down and she has to move home with her mom and their friendship is totally changing. They're not the same people anymore, not in the same stages of life. And what the movie captures beautifully is how, when friends grow at different rates, one or both of them can end up feeling lonely and confused, and the friendship that was once so life-giving is now in a shambles.

Remember that movie Waterboy, with Adam Sandler? I wouldn't, either, except that while the rest of us were busy wondering when Adam Sandler would go away, my dad sat crying a few seats down from me. There were some family dynamics in that movie that resonated with him deeply, and this strange film had managed to communicate something of his own experience to him, with new words and enough distance that he had permission to access his own feelings around the dynamics.

Well, Bridesmaids was my Waterboy. Not mine alone, apparently--there were several other women in the theater who were quietly crying during the same scene, a bridal shower gone totally bananas where the growing distance between Kristen and Maya came to a head in one of those laugh-through-your-tears moments.

And this is what it meant to me: Sometimes, friendships don't go the way that you think they will. Sometimes, the closeness that meant security shatters when you reveal too much of yourself, and the safety that you enjoyed in vulnerability is lost. You learn to put guards up again, and to hold things a bit closer. Sometimes, the women you thought were your champions have actually been saying things about you that breaks your trust and breaks your heart a little bit, too. Sometimes you get your hopes up, enough to lift you out of loneliness, only to find out you things don't really look like you thought they did. You can grow apart from someone, you can disappoint them, you can hurt them, you do all of these things and it makes a life and without forgiveness and grace and open hands, you just get lonelier and more stuck.

The movie brought up sadness and anger in me about a particular friendship I lost a bunch of years ago. I know it's absolutely a good thing for me that this friendship ended, but the scars run deeper than I thought they did. The loneliness is still there - even though I have more lovely and wonderful friends than I could rightfully expect, to fill that loneliness - and the void from that friendship is a place that I will painfully invite God into, time and time again. Relationships are hard, people aren't perfect, and every time we enter into a relationship we open ourselves up to the possibility of hurt--the closer the friendship, the greater the potential for pain.

But knowing you aren't alone in the pain -- seeing the movie, watching other women in the theater use their shirt sleeves to dab at the corner of their eyes -- that is the gift.

Did you see the movie? What did you think? I'm curious to hear from some of you about this whole issue....


Lesley said...

Ah, you hit a chord with me. I love talking about female friendship and all the intricacies and joys that come with. I haven't seen Bridesmaids yet, and was debating whether I should. (I was worried it would be all raunchy humor, which just annoys me.) You've convinced me! Now I'm counting down to the weekend so I can see it. Thanks for such an insightful post about this movie. I might drop back with more thoughts once I've seen the film.

Sarah said...

I'm totally inspired to go see this now. My roommate loved it too.

rachel said...

Can we really see it during girls' weekend?? I can't wait to laughcry while sitting next to you.

Laura Ortberg Turner said...

Lesley and Sar, I hope you love it as much as I did - I'd love to hear from you after you've seen it.

Rach, add it to the agenda. It's a must-see, plus I feel like we need to do one movie together since I couldn't attend SATC so many years ago.

Erica.Michelle. said...

ah lady! You hit the nail on the head. I love reading your writings. I def want to see this movie and I can so relate to your female friendship contemplations and scars. Luv to u. xo.

rachel said...

on sunday night, i walked in the door at 10pm just as lauren was finishing her LAST homework assignment for that pesky teaching credential she's been working on. being lauren, she said, "should we make cosmos in nalgenes and go see bridesmaids??" i was hesitant at first because of oh, you know, "career demands," but ultimately decided it was the best idea i'd heard all week. or month? hard to say. so yes, now i have seen bridesmaids and you can quote to me lines from the airplane scene, or from when kristen is trying to get rhodes' attention by pretending no one is driving her car (rhodes!). but really, i came on here to say that i do think that filllllm captured the dynamic in a close female friendship very well. situations change, relationships change, yes, but i think for really true friends, we "get" each other no matter what else is going on (queue scene in maya rudolph's apartment on the wedding day). gah,now i'm getting all teary-eyed thinking of you and the other LADIES. shit, we are lucky.