We all know the scenario… Lights dimmed, glowing faces, silent rapture. He leans forward after the declaration, she swoons. Eyes locked, onscreen and off. She may or may not decide to return the favour and speak to confirm the feelings so obviously played out. Film seduction at its best. The cinema is hushed in delicious anticipation, waiting for the kiss…. The sea laps at their feet, a gentle breeze tickles the fading sun… And finally the music crescendo begins, his hand moves to wipe the hair from her eyes, everyone holds their breath. The camera is static; our hungry eyes can’t leave the screen. We eat through the tension, lap up each miserable excuse for an obstacle, cry at the injustice of missed opportunities and laugh in giddy delight when the goal is closer than ever. The soft focus dreamy kisses find their place on screen and the “Film Feeling” is born.
I’m hopeful in this depiction, using the royal ‘we’ with reckless abandon, trusting that I am not the only romantic to be lingering in virtual places. In fact so sure am I that everyone will understand this emotion, the ideal romance that film portrays, that I wanted to share my general musings and wonderment and my recent discoveries regarding the said feeling.
I have always been in love with the idea of love, romance and the notion that dreams should be pursued. The “film feeling” embodies everything above and more, it’s the American Dream for Romantics, it’s the youthful embrace on life, it’s crazy optimism at its undiluted best. Many argue that Hollywood churn out formulaic romantic comedies that have very little to do with real life emotion and relationships, that its dream of the everyday is far removed from what is relevant in today’s society. I feel that although we as an audience are mentally abused regularly through some of the mediocre cinema that is poorly produced but fantastically marketed, not all romantic cinema should be dismissed. Through my experience, through watching and studying, I have found that too much emphasis is put on certain genres, directors and even stars. Romantic films are neglected because in the world of media studies they are not in vogue, not cutting edge and compared to Westerns (pah!) are considered to be of lesser importance. However, if film is in its essence is about finding a story in a multitude of voices, transferring emotion from the metaphysical to the visible, and above people, events and places, what core of the human condition runs deeper than love? Love. Passion. Romance. In love. Lost and found. The need to celebrate togetherness. The hope, the faith, the longings. Life is full of wonderment and nothing is more amazing than that rare occurrence of mutual love. Why shouldn’t film that explores such a central emotion in our lives be regarded as important or indeed influential? We can’t all be cynical about love surely? The world isn’t that small of a place, yet. So maybe the global family are tucked up in bed watching these films, maybe, just maybe we all are secretly in love with the “Film Feeling” but don’t know how to express it in the everyday. Or it could be that we haven’t met our co-star yet? Possibly we’re simply checking out different scripts in the hope that the next one we read will be our own box office success?
On the unbelievable (to me anyway) instance that I’ve lost you perhaps I should try and describe my relationship with this feeling and the ideals it evokes and see if I can convince you to live everyday my way. For this I may lapse into strange references, both personal and not so personal, so I apologise in advance. I’m going to begin with my title and the reference to the film “Never Been Kissed”, which I like, can’t help it, Ms. Barrymore is infectious and the script is predictable but charming in its endeavour to express the “Film Feeling”. The film dances merrily around the notion of self-discovery and its importance to finding and keeping love. We follow Josie (Barrymore) in her quest for the best story and are made aware that before she is, through her soap opera like following, that she is the story. Her voyage is what attracts us; she isn’t the perfect polished heroine. Instead, she is the geek, the loner, the dreamer. She is that part of us all. She openly admits to wanting what we all of us yearn for, someone to kiss away the world, someone to fall in love with, and the best thing is, she realises that it is all possible, you just have to love yourself. Now before I let you have the sick bag, and when you’ve all quite finished rolling your eyes in mock disgust, I’ll explain why I believe in this. This film isn’t the best example of a great romantic film, it’s not an epic like “Gone With The Wind”, a classic like “An Affair to Remember” or even as touching as “Sleepless in Seattle”. It is just a Hollywood film striving to have some kind of conscience veering heavily into the “Chick Flick” signposts but it does make good. It offers a chance to reflect and cry, it’s a cathartic experience in a way that is becoming difficult to explain. It offers pangs of emotion. The “Film Feeling” in action is a rush of not apparent longing but shall we say identification. It allows the audience to feel the “awh” factor; the sentiment is sugary but hopeful, even when Josie gets her man. It preaches in a fashion, writing the rules in a traditional sense, and shouts, “go forth and conquer” at the top of its lungs. The feeling and film are about the fight of love, because love is worth the struggle, the wait and all the obstacles that two hours or a lifetime create. Girls like these films not because the people are beautiful, the lifestyles are nice or the relationships are so different to their own (although it can help), but because they are gorgeous in their love of “in love”. The happy ending is negotiable, as long as some happiness is allowed. The leading man doesn’t have to be Joaquin Phoenix because through his behaviour, his passion, he becomes more attractive. The “Film Feeling” is the epitome of “in love” and the emotion it incorporates. It offers glimpses of strong attraction and upon learning more increases in strength and feeling. It is a cinematic treat. An experience through watching, allowing us to fall in love over and over again through the common bond of sensation. Hopefully we have all felt like we have been in love and loved, and if not it argues that the feelings we harbour are not redundant, that someone out there is aching for us, yearning to find that someone to share their popcorn with.
I feel I must validate this argument and offer my own experience in the vaguest of expressions and hope that you’ll take my word for a lot of what I deem evidence for the existence of this feeling. I fell in love. For the first time. The feeling was mutual and I lost myself in the world of being a twosome. I am not however offering this as my evidence. Because in the falling, in fell too far and lost sight of myself. Since the day we parted, which was anticipated but still painful, I fought to discover who I was, for want of better phrasing. I found I had spent a lot of time during our relationship repressing myself on a lot of levels, to the fact where during the inevitable changing that people do I was just a shadow of myself. Who I was, or what I was to do, were all grounded in him. He had become my way of defining myself. It wasn’t his fault and it wasn’t really mine either. It was something that had to happen to allow me to find myself Josie stylee. Stop scoffing at this admission and reflect for a while. Parting from someone you love and admitting that the love is no longer “in-love” and you are left unsure of yourself…. How do you feel? Do you cry gently? Do you think all the time; do thoughts haunt your sleep? Do you fight for yourself or do you fight for “in-love”? I think almost anyone I’ve spoken to about this have wanted to fight, in some way, for love but many wouldn’t consider the fight for themselves.
The “Film Feeling” is amazing to me because through all the things that life throws at you, all the painful growing and delightful discoveries, through it all, you discover that anything is possible if you just open yourself to the experience. You are the factor in the feeling, you combined with your youthful optimism (which in love never departs from our hearts*) and an amazing person who is worthy of you can explode emotionally on your own screen. Finding yourself is imperative to the wonderment. Adventure, love, pleasure, difficulties…. Everything comes to those who are young at heart. Because these people realise that the journey is important, the destination doesn’t have to be set in stone. These are the romantics. A friend of mine commented recently “People should fight everyday for their Love’s heart”, and so they should. We should also feel that we ourselves are worth the fight. The “Film Feeling” allows us to see this in action and recognise our own “flutters”, so next time you are invited round to a hopeful romantic’s house to watch “Amelie” fight the urge to say no. Go and embrace it! Because like me you may find in finding yourself, you may accidentally find someone else and get wrapped in your own “film feelings”. The possibility of another story, a connection with another that promises beautiful pangs and gorgeous rememberings. Be open to the emotion, and you might find yourself writing an article describing an incredible serendipitous moment. A moment that is worth knowing yourself better for. A cinematic moment that doesn’t exist to some people, because surely these romantic happenings don’t occur in real life…