A collection of great short film and video from around the web.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Validation: 9/10ths of a great short film

Twitter user & filmmaker Paul Docherty recommended this film for #shortfilmsunday. I always love the things he comes up with - such a wide variety of interesting filmmaking from across the web.

It's really well-made. Beautifully acted and lovingly shot and lit. It has an original, fun premise. Almost 3.5 million people have watched it. The beginning is awesome. I really liked it...except...

What the main character does to "get the girl" is stalking behavior. If a total stranger came into my job and decided it was his mission in life to make me smile, if he brought teddy bears and flowers and followed me everywhere - I would call the police. I might leave town or change my name. This kind of pursuit of a woman is not romantic or fun or sexy. It's an unhealthy fixation. Dude, she didn't smile back. Or talk to you. Or invite your attention in any way. Leave that girl alone!

I realize the Romantic Comedy genre is full of moments like this where the boy chases the girl or the girl chases the boy, and that the audience wants to believe in great love at first sight and see persistence rewarded. Classical Hollywood narrative film is all about a protagonist following his heart's desire, and we need to see him take visible action to pursue that desire to have a satisfying conclusion. I recognize that it's just a movie, and a very good movie at that - but personally I shrink from watching that kind of behavior. I think it's creepy any time a person decides that romance with another person is their one goal in life. I think it's creepy when strangers demand that I smile. I'm the humorless feminist who watches Say Anything and thinks that Lloyd Dobbler is really irritating and should probably leave the girl alone and definitely NOT follow her to a foreign country to leech off of her goals and aspirations since he has none of his own.

So often we're made to identify with the protagonist in the film and think about the person we really wanted and wish that we'd had the same "courage" to pursue and that we hadn't been so hung up on fear of rejection, etc. The woman is portrayed as something to conquer through lofty deeds and persistence. The protagonist, who we get to know pretty well, is a Nice Guy Who Just Wants Love. What could be so bad about that? The little lonely Nice Guy in all of us perks right up. The character is played by the very talented and charming TJ Thyne, and the movie has set us up to know that he's a nice, non-threatening person, but Victoria has no way of knowing that he's not dangerous. To her he's just that creepy guy who won't stop hanging out at the DMV demanding that she smile. Change the soundtrack a little bit and you have a whole different movie.


  1. Wow! What a cold perspective you have... You would call the police if a guy fell madly in love with you?! Really, now?! That's an awful thing to read, especially after I had planned on declaring my love at first sight after looking at your profile picture... You have such a wonderful smile.

    P.S.: You call it "unhealthy fixation", but don't forget that the most intense love stories of literature were not "healthy" lovy-dovy, but rather "unhealthy", cursed ones.

  2. @Elena, thanks for the compliment about the profile picture, please don't start showing up at my job with gifts!

    Does being "madly in love" give you the right to completely disrespect another person's boundaries? Shouldn't you wait to see if they love you back? I agree that classic and intense love stories in film and fiction depend on just such disrespect, but I'm glad I live in the world where people get to know each other slowly, in a sanely-in-love kind of way.