Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Break-Up

The Cold War

The real life relationship between Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston probably casted a cynical shadow over this movie, given its ominously sounding title about the end of relationships. Not that it's played out in an unbelievable manner, but this is a classic case of real life causing an unwanted effect on reel life.

In a courtship that spanned up until the end of the opening credits, that's familiar grounds to the real/reel couple as we see them so utterly in love with each other. And it's not before long that the lack of nine lemons became the spark of a heated, long drawn argument. It's the littliest things that always matter and provide the catalyst for unwanted trouble, and the lack of appreciation somehow almost always provide ample ammunition to the start of a cold war.

This movie had the effect of trotting the fine line between the two parties, though I must say that I stand on the side of Aniston's Brooke, rather than Vaughn's Gary. Perhaps that's because I've weaned myself off video games. Anyway, from a spectator's point of view without taking sides because of sexes, her requests (if you call them that) seem reasonable enough, in any relationship which is about give and take. So if you were to ask me who's right or wrong, I've already made my stand.

But while the movie dwells on the confusion of the situation made worse by a common living space and mortgage (money has to do with everything, no doubt), it's some same old grounds that many romance movies had already tread upon, exploring the pain of breaking up and losing someone you had taken for granted, except that because of the premise of this movie, it had to be played out in a more extensive manner. It takes a long look at the games people play to get back at each other, and the saying of things that you don't really mean in the heat of the moment, the skewing of meanings, and the explosion after keeping what you abhor about someone inside you for so long (that's for keeping things under the carpet during good times). There's also quite a realistic take on the running to friends and family for emotional support, and the difficulty of being caught in the middle of things especially when you're friends of both.

Between the two leads, the pain of the break can be most visibly seen in Jennifer Aniston, and there are no doubts as to where she could have drawn the strength from to play her emotional wrecking scenes. Vince Vaughn again looked like he sleepwalked through a role (not that it mattered, given the character), but I thought that his portrayal didn't really bring out that tinge of regret or believable sadness at the whole event.

Can you become friends with the person you broke up with? Probably. How deep that friendship can be will depend on the circumstances behind the breakup, and of course how willing each party is to bury the past and carry on as friends. It could be in an extreme superficial manner, which I would think now, why bother at all?

The city of Chicago provided the backdrop of another recent movie - The Lake House, in a story about love and hope. Here, it turned the other way and became the city where love and hope had faded, and those who have undergone a break up of sorts can experience the bittersweet aftertaste. Did I mention the almost unrecognizable Justin Long's awfully fugly take as an effeminate co-worker? Ewww....

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