There is really no way around it. I kind of knew that this was unavoidable. There are a couple of stories that really irk me, but this one, in movie form takes the cake. This story, to me, was so bad that it actually inspired me to start a movie blog a few years ago… the blog didn’t do so well so I abandoned it. So I’ll basically take what I wrote there and try to add a little as I go. Bear with me, I can already feel my blood boiling.
Now I know what everyone is thinking;
“Of course he’s going to bring up a girl’s movie. He’s a guy who’s into fantasy and action.”
No! I’m okay with romantic movies. I still enjoy 50 First Dates and Valentine’s Day was a cute movie in it’s own right. I actually bought my wife a copy of Just Like Heaven… and City of Angels is a guilty pleasure. I give stories a fair chance and don’t judge just because it’s from a specific genre. This one however, drove me crazy to the point where I was pretty much yelling by the end of it. Thank God I didn’t pay money to go see it or I might have had a coronary!
My wife turned it on one day because she wanted to see it. Being a good loving husband, I decided to give it a chance. Within minutes, I was regretting that decision.
So by now you’re probably asking yourself why does he find this movie offensive to the senses? It’s a cute love story, what’s your issue? Well… let’s take a look…
So the movie starts off with this young couple enjoying a night out on the town. They are getting ready to drive home when their car get’s hit. The husband, played by present heart-throb Channing Tatum… (Soon to be Gambit in X-Men Apolcalypse… kay…), is unharmed while his wife, Rachel McAdams, suffers a traumatic brain injury and loses her memory.
She is brought into the hospital where it’s revealed that she’s lost a large chunk of her memory, but not all of it and actually mistakes her husband for a doctor. It’s not long before her family gets wind of what’s going on and comes to her aid. At this point, you find out that her and her family have a troubled history, which is why she moved into the city. The worst part about this set up is that the last thing she remembers is being engaged to another man.
This results in the ex showing up again… most likely contacted by her parents, and the girl throwing herself at her ex behind her husband’s back. All the while, she is treating her husband horribly while he tries to help her recover.
I’m going to stop there for a moment. This is a major problem for me. Let me explain, despite her losing her memory and being indifferent to the guy she learns she’s married to, her husband does everything (and I mean everything) to help her heal and make her comfortable. He also shows some class and doesn’t tell her why she left her family, which is revealed later that her father, played by Sam Neil, had an affair with one of her friends, and her mother is living in a delusional world where her family is more important than the individual feelings of herself, or her children. The mother basically seems to be in a hypnotic state of denial!
So, back on track, Rachel’s character treats her husband like crap, and eventually leaves him to go back and be with her family. Yes, it’s Tatum who finalizes the divorce, but it’s her pushing away and her family’s constant pressure that prompts him to make that decision. So now, pretty much the last few years of his now-ex wife’s life is being undone. Tragic, I’ll admit. I’d probably have gone insane at this point if I were in Tatum’s shoes.
So eventually she discovers that she’s been manipulated by her family and their misdeeds are brought out into the light… Her father’s actions and her own desire for freedom are why she left home in the first place and moved to the city. So now that we have that realization, does she go back to her husband apologetically with tears in her eyes and beg his forgiveness? Nope. That’s what a person with a heart does. That’s what someone with feelings and emotions does… does she even tell her family off? Nope…
So what does she do then?
SHE ALLOWS THE DIVORCE TO GO THROUGH AND LET’S HER FAMILY CONTINUE TO MANIPULATE HER!! She gives up her art and goes back to school because… that’s what daddy told her to do, and pretty much goes back to the way things were, completely forgetting that her father had sex with one of her friends… wonderful. Channing man, I’m starting to think you were better off without this… woman. She’s officially hit the rewind button on life and years of progress have been LOST!
So eventually events, probably similar to ones that happened before she lost her memory, happen again and she realizes, once again, that school isn’t for her, and she moves back to the city, once again, to continue working on her art. She tells her father that she’s not leaving because of him, it’s just something she has to do… and God bless your heart if you believe a word of that.
So she moves back to the city, ‘coincidentally enough’ not too far from where her now-ex-husband lives, but doesn’t go to see him. Which, for once, is the right thing to do! Seriously, you wring a human being through the blender, stomp on his heart, and spit on the remaining pieces, at least have the decency to let the guy live his life! So maybe she has a redeeming quality…
Six months go by and she continues to work on her ‘art.’ One night outside a shop the couple used to frequent, Channing runs into his ex-wife who tells him she’s moved back to the city. She tells him everything that’s happened… and like a total sucker, he takes her back! Are you freaken serious!? Her family doesn’t like you, she all but cheated on you, she treated you like crap and left you high and dry and your taking her back? Seriously any person, any REAL person, would have scoffed and walked away.
Okay, if it’s not painfully obvious to why by now why I really hate this story, then let me lay it out for you:
1. Ladies and Gents, you can’t abuse your loved one, cheat on them, treat them like crap and expect that they’ll just take you back when all is said and done. I don’t care what the excuse is. If the person has any self respect at all, they’ll laugh at you for even trying.
2. Decisions people, you make them, you have to live with them! There is a saying “You can’t go Home again.” It’s truth.
3. If someone manipulates you, it’s probably not the best move in the world to put your trust in those people!
There is no character development here at all. What we see is a character revert to a previous time and then regrow to where they were when the movie started. That’s not development. Not a single person apologizes for the wrong they’ve done. I get not holding something over someone’s head for the rest of their lives. Forgive and move on, but when you’ve NEVER apologized for it in the first place, and then make no effort to come clean with the skeletons when someone has put their trust in you… that’s reprehensible! The father doesn’t apologize for being an adulterer, the friend doesn’t apologize for being a slut, the mother doesn’t apologize for being dillusional and allowing her father to manipulate her, knowing full well what’s going on. The ex doesn’t apologize for being a douche, and the wife doesn’t apologize for being a cheating abusive witch, to the one somewhat respectable human being in this movie who actually deserved one!
God… the entire time I was watching this movie, I kept thinking back to an episode I saw (Of Law and Order I think), where a young woman walks in on her family who has been brutally murdered. After an intense investigation, it turns out that her family manipulated her out of her life and marriage after she suffered amnesia in almost identical fashion to this movie. The difference: The daughter got her memory back a few years later, saw that her husband had married another woman, realized what her family had done to her AND MURDERED THEM! This would have been a better and probably more realistic outcome, and one I was waiting for the entire time! But it never freaken happens!
This fantasy of a movie gives off the impression that there is no consequences for your actions and you can treat people like shit and they will still come running back to you. The entire time it’s trying to paint Rachel’s character as blameless… this is something a neo-feminist would write!
Yes I understand that she had amnesia, she was confused and alone, etc. But see that’s the thing, she knew she was still married when she threw herself at her ex, she knew her husband was struggling to care for her. Did she care? Hell no!
The worst part? This movie was based on a true story. I looked it up, I did the research, yes the woman in that stories put her through hell, but at least there it was explained that it was from her head injury and not because she was stressed out by what was going on around them. As it turns out, they didn’t like this re-telling of their story because it left out a major key element in what kept them together; faith.
That’s right, all reference to religion was completely abandoned. Want another shocking fact? All of the family turmoil that went on in the book and the movie dealing with her father’s unscrupulous behavior and interference in her life and marriage… was pure fiction! That’s right, none of it really happened! They had the support of their families and were able to hold together through everything.
The lead woman in fictitious story is a total witch for no explained reason and there is nothing redeemable about her character. It would appear she showed her true colors of what caliber of person she was when she lost her memory.
Seriously, I’ve seen some bad romance stories in my time but this… this is mind numbingly bad, it’s reprehensible and it’s intolerable. It’s not what would really happen unless the guy was a pathetic fool, and it really pissed me off! It’s not charming, it’s not romantic, I hope it burns in hell as no doubt her fictitious adulterous father will.
I’m going to stop now before I actually give myself a coronary. Feel free to disagree… but to me, this story will be hard to top!
Pingback: Romance Movies Too Linear? | James Harrington's Blog of Geek and Writing