Okay, to focus on the characterization in this film… I really need to break the movie up, because there are several intertwining plotlines. For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to assume anyone reading this has seen the movie or is at least somewhat familiar with it (doing a plot recap would take way too much space). If you read this analysis and it makes no sense, go see the movie first… even if you hate it, you’ll probably still laugh your ass off at the antics of Bill Nighy.
Daniel & Sam: Boys and Girls, but Mostly Boys.
All right, this is a sad story…widower struggles to raise a son by himself. I thought the funeral at the beginning was actually the best part…it showcases how badly Daniel is hurting, and also how much he loved his strong-willed wife and is going to have problems without her.
And then…the rest of the movie proceeds, and he seems to get along just fine! Hell, I don’t know how much time passed, but by the end of the movie, he’s making moves on lil’ miss Claudia Schiffer. Where’s your neverending tragic love, Daniel?< Petered out kind of quick, didn’t it?
Considering what a great tragic figure Liam Neeson can do, I think this story kind of fell flat. Aside from some crying jags, I didn’t see him doing a whole lot of mourning. Or the son, for that matter. After that first scene that showed what a great woman she was, the dead mother was kind of… absent.
For that matter, women seemed kind of absent from the storyline in general, as people. The love of Sam’s life, while clearly pretty and talented (and POC, nice extra), is not really explored at all, and certainly the emphasis is on Sam “winning her”, not what she really wants. For a storyline that seems to be about love, this seemed to really focus on male romanticism of women.
Karen and Harry: Men Can Be Such Dumbasses
Mixed feelings. Now I love Alan Rickman, okay? And I think he’s a great actor, because he can play so many different roles. Well, in this role he plays a likable guy who also happens to be an idiot, and kind of an asshole. I mean, come ON! Besides being a happily married family man, you’re married to Emma Thompson! She’s gorgeous!
Despite the sadness of it, there’s a lot I like about this story (though to be honest, I like the sadness too…I like a good sad feeling, sometimes). I like that one of the primary focuses, really, is on how this affair hurts Karen. The scene where she opens her gift and finds a CD instead of a necklace, then quietly excuses herself with a plastic smile to go cry in the next room…that’s almost the saddest part of the movie.
And while they don’t try to portray Harry as a bad guy (he isn’t, really, I don’t think), they certainly don’t try to make it look like he’s in any way in the right (as of course, he isn’t). For that matter, it points out how utterly stupid it is for men to cheat, or even play at cheating…as far as I know, he never even got anything from Mia! So you just blew 300 quid, hurt your wife and maybe ruined your marriage… for what? Not even sex? For the chance to feel like young women want to get into your pants? Do guys really do this? Yeah, sad to say, they do… but why? Does society make it so that men feel justified in this behavior? Does it put such a premium on men feeling “virile” that they feel they need to (and should) do stupid, hurtful things to reinforce their self-image? Is this a commentary on how male egotism feeds the mid-life crisis?
My only real dislike is that Mia is tremendously cardboard…on the cast list, it should have just said “evil temptress”.