A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Why Kissing Too Early Can Be a Problem

It's Cheap Wednesday at the local video store which means 95 cents per DVD... I'm curious about the Dear John movie which was out in the cinemas a few months ago. So I break the bank and rent Dear John for me and Dora and the Crystal Something for the 3 year old. "Dear John" has snuck into the language as a kind of unexpected, nasty correspondence that breaks hearts from afar.

The plot is straightforward... 2 young people fall madly in love with one another in a matter of 2 weeks, which is convenient because he's on leave and she's on spring break... Still, they're not bad kids. She's a uni student and he's a soldier with the Special Forces. And of course, his name is John. It's shy and awkward at first but she's a really, really nice girl... very pretty and sweet so he can't help himself. Soon they're kissing in the rain... Yeah, when people kiss in the rain in da movies, you know of course, it has to be uber, uber SERIOUS.

But he's a soldier so he has to take off and do his duty in unmentionable, faraway places. He makes ...oh, oh... A PROMISE to be back after his present tour. So while separated they write letters... lots and lots of letters because what they really want to do is kiss some more and have babies together. The course of true love doesn't run smoothly because on Sept 11, an airplane crashes into the Twin Towers. He's a good boy... a patriot and feels that it is his duty to stick with his unit and extend his term in the army. She's not happy about this new development but tries to be understanding.

Thinking all is well, he goes back to doing army stuff. She doesn't write for a long, long time and so he gets a bit worried. One day, after a few months, he gets his "Dear John" letter... She's engaged... but not to him obviously and doesn't have the guts to tell him herself that she's "met someone else". Even a Green Beret can get broken hearted and since he doesn't feel like killing anyone around him, he takes all her letters and burns them in the nearest oversized ash tray.

By now, you're probably fuming at me for giving away the plot. But honestly, you could've worked it out from the first five minutes of the film so I'm probably doing you a favour. It's not a bad film really... dialogue's good, acting ranging from so-so to pretty good.
But the thing that bugs someone like me about a film like this is how quickly people kiss and jump over each other like a rash. Dear John is scarcely unique in contemporary film-making, I realise. Some might even consider it tame. But it makes the show kinda boring, don't you think? When the pay-off comes in the first 30 minutes?

However, when you watch one of those brilliant Jane Austen adaptations, your heart is racing, your internal temperature rises when the handsome male lead enters the picture, gazes longingly at his lady-love and they both manage to keep their hands and lips to themselves, clothes intact.
Of course, they want to make babies together... it's in their eyes, for crying out loud. The British are superior eye actors, if you ask me. The best.
But they believe in something ridiculous called "honour" which means they want to be super sure that before they lock lips or jump into bed together, they can properly say, "Till death do us part..."
So by the end of  the series/film, you're shouting at the screen in desperation... "Good gracious man, kiss her already!"

In Sense and Sensibility, (the most recent BBC version... not the movie starring Hugh Grant... thank God... Sorry but Hugh Grant plays Hugh Grant everytime he's in a movie) it's obvious to everyone with eyes (even the cat that he calls "sister") that Edward Ferrars is head over heels with Elinor Dashwood. But something holds him back... He is a man of "honour" so he doesn't say more than he should because he has made a prior commitment else where.

There's a lovely scene two-thirds of the way into the final part (4:07 - 6:03) when Edward and Elinor are talking. There are a million things they want to say but they can't because of the position that he's in.
There's something extremely sexy about a man who has enough mastery over his own feelings to restrain himself but it is in his eyes we see a glimpse of his inner struggle. He is not free to say "I love you" and he doesn't.
It's a sensibility, both in life and fiction, that has all but disappeared into the sunset.
It's a lost art.


  1. I agree - anticipation is half the fun!

  2. Haha! love this post! I remember not allowed to watch kissing scenes until I'm married and I honestly didn't till after I gave birth! It was very awkward watching people kiss for a story! And yes, kissing spoils all the fun. I love the Chinese period dramas because they just don't kiss. The actors bring out the emotions in their narration, expressions and body language.

  3. Janet: Only half?

    YN: I must admit to feeling like a voyeur even now when I watch kissing scenes. It still depends largely on how it's done.
    I'm not against kissing in movies entirely... just that it's overdone these days and the timing sucks mostly.

  4. Great review!! Will have to hire out Sense and Sensibility soon.

  5. If you manage to get it at your local video store, let me know. I don't see BBC vids very often at mine.

  6. Try your local library for BBC videos.


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