Modern Love

So a couple of nights ago, instead of grading papers or cleaning the kitchen, I went to the movies.  Ever since I read in The Week that the *average* rating of Drive was four stars, I had wanted to see it — even though I enjoy cars less than probably anyone else I know.

It was just as fantastic as everyone says it is: gripping and understated at the same time.  I don’t want to go into a lot of detail (I’m certainly not a qualified film critic) but I think what got under my skin the most, and has stayed with me in the days since, was the depiction of the side-note love story between the two main characters.

(Possible spoilers ahead, depending on your pickiness; continue at your own risk.)

They meet honorably: he holds the elevator door for her and watches with an eager, shy smile as she enters her apartment on the same floor.  Later, he listens in on a sweet, intimate conversation between her and her son, and he helps fix her ailing car in the parking lot.  As their relationship deepens, we watch as they watch each other, laugh together, care for her son.  They spend a lot of time just smiling, bashful in each other’s presence but unable to shake the wide-eyed adoration they feel for one another.  Physical contact is limited to a squeeze of the hand and one glorious, passionate kiss in the elevator just before they are separated forever.

The things they love about each other are apparent.  She is a nurturing mother with a sense of adventure; he is protective, dependable and comfortable in almost every situation.  They are both beautiful (hey, it’s Hollywood.)  But it’s not their physical attractiveness we see; it’s the strength of their character, strength that’s reinforced as they grow closer together and help each other cope with problems and celebrate victories. And, despite their love for each other, they each choose something even higher — she, her marriage; he, her family’s safety — in the end.

Is there anything that’s more beautiful than this?  And, basking in the warmth and purity of it, how can we stand to be confronted by the sheer drivel of Sex in the City and its counterparts in film, the relentless stream of romantic comedies that washes over us every summer?

I realize a movie is just a story.  But I don’t think it’s too much to ask that it use that hour or two to say something meaningful.  A movie like that can just take your breath away.