the second was how easily she could cut it off, and feel nothing.”
in screenwriting books + film class they tell you that voice over narration is the mark of a bad movie. in this case, movies like 500 days and big fish and o brother where art thou would be bad movies.
of course, that’s all matter of opinion but i personally can’t help but love the use of narration. when it’s done well, it really lifts the subject matter and places the movie in motion.
i’ve watched this movie six times in theaters and once illegally (i promise i’m going to purchase the dvd, obviously). somewhere buried under my bed, on the back and front of a crumpled piece of paper are my jotted notes on this one film.
here is the full voice over narration:
"this is a story of boy meets girl.
the boy, tom hanson of margate, new jersey, grew up believing that he’d never truly be happy until the day he met “the one.” this belief stemmed from early exposure to sad british pop music and a total misreading of the movie ‘the graduate’.
the girl, summer finn of chennicok, michigan, did not share this belief. since the disintegration of her parents’ marriage, she’d only loved two things; the first was her long, dark hair. the second was how easily she could cut it off, and feel nothing.
tom meets summer on january eighth. he knows, almost immediately, she is who he’s been searching for.
this is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront… this is not a love story.”
my favorite line in this bit of voice over is “the first was her long, dark hair. the second was how easily she could cut it off, and feel nothing.”
it’s a concise and creative way of saying that summer is capable of loving but can flee from it with ease and haste.
in these two lines, the writer has captured (in a subtle and almost poetic way) the essence of summer finn. beautiful.
i was having dinner in lourdes. paela and wine (red). along the gave de pau (a river, which marches at a dangerous pace. i threw a broken branch into the current and it was out of sight in six seconds).
i sat about two tables away from two young men also having dinner. one, while downing his dish, leafed through a magazine. the other busy with his own dish.
leafing through the magazine – “scarlett johansson. she’s fucking sexy. those lips. those eyes…she’s smart. she sings too – really well, i hear.”
"she’s like a man’s perfect woman. i would love to meet her."
"no you don’t. trust me." he takes a sip of his wine.
"trust me. you don’t."
"because…" he takes another sip. "you don’t ever want to meet ‘the perfect woman.’ ever."
the man closes the magazine and sets it down on the table. his interest is locked in now.
"because, you know, you spend what…a lot of time, a lot of thought…building your ideal woman. down to the most unnecessary detail. eyes. lips. hair. even down to her fucking toes. you might even know what color nail polish she prefers."
he looks at the magazine, particularly scarlett’s nails. “cranberry.”
"see? exactly…even things like what she likes to do while waiting for the metro. her favorite books. movies. whatever. you do all this. and for what? you’ve created this ‘superwoman’… such high expectations for yourself. it’s all very unlikely, but…"
he takes a sip of wine.
"the irony is – that fucking superwoman? she exists. she’s out there. and if the stars align or if it’s a fucking blue moon, you’ll meet her. you might even fall in love – but that…”
he sighs here, as if to say he hasn’t got the time nor the energy.
"is a whole other clusterfuck of an explanation. if it works out – great. don’t fuck up. take her out to some place nice. call her. give each other fucked up nicknames…but if it doesn’t work out? you’re so fucked. you can’t stay over superwoman. sure, you’ll try to date other women, but they aren’t her. you’re forced to settle - and you should never settle.
and it’s not something you can cure. it always comes back. you’re guaranteed to think about her and how somewhere along the way, you fucked up. every day, at least once. you can’t control memory. you can do all the things you want to escape it. but the most random thing will get you back to thinking about it. it’s a cruel fucking psychological joke.
you’ll give other girls a chance. but they obviously can’t compare to superwoman. or you’re so hesitant because of the emotional baggage you can’t seem to get rid of. you distance yourself from everyone. you try to convince yourself and others that you actually enjoy being alone - but that’s a fucking lie. you go through any sort of relationship with half effort, but no girl deserves half effort.
besides… i bet scarlett’s a pretentious little bitch anyway.”
at this point he takes a last sip of wine and refills his glass. it’s clear he’s finished his rant. he looks around. our eyes meet for a half second and then flee, a rather typical occurrence between strangers.
but this half second seemed to stretch for much longer, as if time knew i needed more seconds to let it all sink in. as if he needed more time to say with his eyes:
'it's okay. i understand.'
i got up from my seat in that restaurant in lourdes (a beautiful one, overlooking the gave du pau and a narrow street filled with cafes, tourist shops, and hotels.)
beautiful view. i should have enjoyed this view as i got up from my seat, but right in front of me, in large obnoxious green neon was your name. (the name of some hotel along the street.)
as if that conversation, an english one in a small french town, a religious one at that, wasn’t enough. something as blunt as your name, flashing in my face like one big fat exclamation point to this whole story.
and i can’t help but think of the handful of other moments where i thought i was over you and was then reminded that that’s clearly not the case.
that girl in the ginza with the leg warmers. the pokemon conversation with the kid at the playground. even the fucking expiration date of that orange juice at four in the morning.