Saturday, August 15, 2009


To Friendship

Sure if someone has hot as Jennifer Aniston were to offer you to touch their butt, I'm sure almost every male out there would jump at the chance of doing so without thinking twice. It's a no brainer offer, and a teaser of course to a larger, more sentimental story out there about the relentless pursuit of love, the romanticism attached to wanting to be with someone, without being consciously bogged by the harsh realities of life and survival. With affairs of the heart, to me at least it's a seizing of opportunities presented, rather than to adopt the wait and see approach.

The hook for the film, written and directed by Stephen Belber, is of course that much talked about scene between Aniston and Steve Zahn, the former being Sue, an art saleswoman who on a business trip had stayed at a motel, which Zahn's Mike is the night manager of his family's business. Smitten by none other than her buttocks, Mike crafts simple yet really strange excuses just to be close to Sue and talk to her, and the initial scenes which they share in her hotel room, is something that both actors brought out superbly – the awkwardness, the suspicions, and that hopeful look that something good might arise from all of the nonsense.

Thus began Mike's obsession with Sue when she allowed him that grace to fulfill a fantasy, and that translated to the borderline of stalking, where he dumps everything, and pursues her across state lines. Turning up at someone's workplace unannounced can have a very chilling effect, especially when one is only nothing more than an acquaintance and a one-nighter, to pass time and in an attempt to claw out of loneliness. After all, anything else is better than being holed up in your hotel room playing Solitaire on a computer.

Management is pretty much about the idealistic and pragmatic lenses that we wear from time to time in our view of romantic relationships. Here, it's a Mr Idealistic versus Ms Pragmatic in the approach. In Mike, we see someone with a hope of going beyond his comfort zone of his parents' business, in the pursuit of a romance that he only wishes to turn out positively. There's no plan, there's no ulterior motive, there's only the want to be with someone and spend time with her, pure and simple. Heck he doesn't even have enough money to begin with.

For Ms Pragmatic, it's all about the plan, where such a situation will lead to, Complications arrive through the introduction of her ex-boyfriend Jango (Woody Harrelson), an ex-punk band member who is now an established businessman. This means a nobody Mike is against a somebody Jango, and presents a choice for Sue to choose – the one for that undying romance, or the one who can pay the bills and allow her to continue hiding behind charitable causes to coast through life without spontaneity that the former may bring. It's a matter of love for genuine love of a person, or a love that is a matter of convenience and timing, which in itself is truly sad because you know that there's a compromise, which may not be for the better.

The film also went beyond the usual romantic elements, and tried successfully to insert other aspects of relationships such as family (Mike's Mom and Dad played by Margo Martindale and Fred Ward respectively), and friends. The role of Al (James Hiroyuki Liao) as Mike's best friend was curiously interesting as well, as here's an almost mirrored character in having a waiter working in his parents' restaurant business too. Despite being present only in the middle act, Al's role served as comedic fodder, and to catalyze that life changing idea for Mike in learning to let go, but never forgetting.

In many ways, the character of Mike had reminded me of a younger self where caution is thrown to the wind with the chasing of skirts, in the same way zoning on that singular tree while forsaking the forest, never mind the issues of incompatibility that loomed in the horizon. Not a very wise move of course on hindsight, but given the intoxicating passionate nature then, I suppose that was that. Naturally between then and now I had realized that there had been irreversible change in our characters probably, and the ones in the past vaguely seem like distant characters who only remotely resemble who they are now.

But Management somehow was more hopeful and optimistic in nature, and I suppose that suited the movie just fine, bringing you through the stages of passionate infatuation to love through the power of naive sincerity. With an excellent selection of songs in its soundtrack, Management may just end up as a surprise when I compile my top 10 list for the year. For those who are looking for that little extra in a romantic comedy, then Management may just be that little gem which will set you thinking.

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