You can ask any girl the question: “What’s your favorite romantic movie? The one that would make you teary-eyed, feel good and sigh at the end.” Common answers are: Pretty Woman, Casablanca, Only You, Titanic, and hundreds of similarly popular films.
I used to have my own favorite traditional romantic movie: A Walk in the Clouds. Aside from the fact that Keanu Reeves looked perfect in every frame, the movie was strengthened by the unique storyline, setting, and amazing supporting cast. It was a different kind of fairy tale and I remember wishing to be the girl who lived in the vineyard.
However, my tastes have changed in the last ten years. If you force me to watch a lovey-dovey type of film, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. The costumes, action sequences, and setting are breathtaking, the soundtrack could move even the crabbiest gardener to tears, and any film that stars both Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh and directed by Ang Lee has to be fantastic.
And for a love story, it has a strange conclusion. Most films either end well or result in tragedy (like Romeo+Juliet and Titanic) that are usually beyond the characters’ control. CTHD is fraught with frustration from the beginning to the end. Yun-Fat and Yeoh’s characters spend their lives loving each other but never do anything about it because of “polite” reasons, in spite of the fact that everyone who mattered knew and approved of their partnership! They only decide to tell each other what they feel while one is seconds from death.
As for the second couple on the movie, Zhang Zi Yi and this other guy (I forgot the actor’s name), they were doomed from the start. It was like trying to match a zebra with a kangaroo; it was impossible to sustain. As a viewer, I found it weird to watch their awkward pairing. Surprisingly, they were the ones who got the chance to be together in the end. They reunite like the starcrossed lovers they are at the mountain–here, everyone pretty much expected a “happily ever after”–but the girl kills herself. And she does so spectacularly: by jumping off a cliff and floating slowly downward like a feather while the stupefied guy watches helplessly.
I always applaud Ang Lee’s genius at the end. This is reality speaking through fantasy. Chasing after your elusive El Passion Grande will bring nothing but bad luck (even death haha), and succeeding usually ends in mediocrity. I mean, fine… in some films, they end with the protagonists kissing and laughing happily. But do movies show how they are after ten years, five kids, added body fat (usually lots of it), and marriage and financial issues way after the romance has passed? One has lost the chance of being something more by trying to achieve perfection too early.
Anyway, where was I? Next on my list of non-kitschy tearjerking, lovey movies is Moulin Rouge with Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, directed by the incredible Baz Luhrrman. But that’s so good that it’ll require a separate post and a saner frame of mind than I have now.
Oh, and if anyone has DVDs of House of Flying Daggers (directed by Zhang Yimou) and Rashomon (by Akira Kurosawa), please send a copy my way. I’ll show you how grateful I am by treating you to Cinnabon. Now, please excuse me, I’m going to watch Memoirs of a Geisha before I sleep.