"Did you ever have a dream that you couldn't explain? Ever meet your accusers face to face in the rain? She had lone brown eyes that I won't forget as long as she's gone."
My leading critic (or at least the one I'm most familiar with) once said that I was much too intense, that I couldn't simply sit back and enjoy things because everything has to "mean" something to me. She was (as she most often is) right of course. One needn't look much deeper into my many neurosis to understand the root of a lot my graying hair is my need to analyze every bit of life's minutia, trying to attach a meaning to why things happen, and often being disappointed to discover that so much in life is merely random.
As aware as I am of this personal issue, I find it as difficult to listen to music as mere background noise, or to go to a movie as just another evening about town, as it is to wear women's pants. There is nothing that involves me quite as thoroughly as a really good, or a really bad piece of music. And the movies that inspire me either remind me of places I've been to and give me another perspective to a memory or a lesson I did or did not learn, or they take me to a whole other place, one I've never been to. My inner critic just can't quite ever fully go to sleep. So there I was at the Mall of America (only for my fourth or fifth time) on a Sunday afternoon with my favorite runway model, watching (and do I dare admit?) enjoying my favorite actress' latest film, trying my best to view it as just another movie while doing my best (honest) to ward off an intense allergic reaction to the bombardment of my overly sensitive and sleep deprived senses.
Forces of Nature is the type of movie Sandra Bullock should make. It is a familiar movie with a lot going on beneath the surface, kind of like a chocolate covered Kahula ball, and it is a movie that is hard to dislike- both qualities readily apparent in Ms. Bullock. The film, which co-stars Ben Affleck, is a movie about an accidental road trip the two take after surviving a plane crash (who was it that said relationships that begin under extreme circumstances never last?). Both are on their way from New York to Savannah to take care of personal business- Affleck to get married, and Bullock to get divorced, sell her bagel business for $25,000 and try and reestablish a relationship with her young son.
On one level the movie is a straightforward little romantic comedy that depends heavily on the charm and chemistry between Bullock and Affleck. But with some nice visual touches, and some subtle writing, the movie has an ethereal quality that makes it, in many ways Bullock's most satisfying film to date. Her character, Sarah, is different from her usual affable girl next door role of While You Were Sleeping and Love and War, and is a more free spirited nuturer, a bit rough around the edges but inspired walker. Sarah seems to be running away in more ways than one, and the closer she gets to home, the more lost she seems.
Affleck, too is effective in the movie. His character is as sensible as he is predictable, yet underneath his calm exterior is the heart of a hopeless romantic. The movie is in essence about his struggle to reconcile the security of settling down with another, while still wondering if there is out there somewhere, a soul mate for each of us, that we may or may not discover and are meant to but don't always end up with.
There is a wonderful shot at the end of the movie of Affleck trying to make up his mind which way he is going to proceed forward- his scheduled wedding is splitting apart at the seams as winds from a hurricane swirl a mixture of decorations and flower petals all around him. It's as if the storm that has been brewing inside of him all movie has finally been released and now he merely has to make the most difficult choice of his life. We see Bullock watching him from afar, knowing her heart which she has closely guarded throughout the movie, is intertwined with his fate. What is on the inside is finally clear as she is on the outside looking in. It is a priceless moment.
The movie's message is ultimately one of hope and despair. We see that this couple brought together for an all too brief but intense moment through some fateful forces, will be with each other forever in one way or another whether they want that or not. But we also see that no matter how hard any of us try and hold on to something just out of our grasp and not give in and let it go, is to distill all of life down to its basic level and finally understand that everything that exists in this world is only temporary. Yet much of it stays with you, and it's not always easy knowing what you have to do to avoid having to go through the same things twice. Relationships come and go leaving behind lingering memories that aren't so easily shed. Even meaningless trivialities like images from a movie may or may not be as hard to shake as who you share a particular movie with. Existence is a small piece of the puzzle of nature, and the moments that link us with another, if only for an all too short period of time, are the greatest force of all.