Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Day 294 - Chasing Amy

Chasing Amy (1997) directed by Kevin Smith

Chasing Amy is one of those rare films that touches upon like every theme in a man's romantic life, going after an unobtainable girl, retarded insecurity, feelings of inadequacies, and just plain stupidness. It's been a while where I could relate so much to a story yet at the same time not understand why some people are just so dumb.

Holden meets a girl named Alyssa and the two instantly hit it off. He thinks their reparte is leading some place (his bed) but there is a catch; Alyssa is a lesbian and only sees Holden as a friend. That doesn't stop Holden though from hanging out with her and becoming BFF's. He genuinely likes her and soon enough he realizes that he is in love. I think every guy has been in this position before. No, it's not being in love with a lesbian, but with a good friend who only sees you as that. Navigating through the friend zone is tough enough, but to try to convert a lesbian is a whole other matter. At this point, the film could devolve into a stupid romantic comedy with a quirky obstacle, but Chasing Amy handles this situation with surprising sentiment and depth. Kevin Smith is known for his casual Tarantino style dialogue, and this film has plenty of that, but he is also capable of writing genuinely touching stuff, as seen from Holden's soul bearing confession to Alyssa. Perhaps it is a bit scripted, it is a movie after all, but I'm sure if I gave this speech to a girl, they'd at least consider it! It's kind of funny that I watched this movie today because I sort of found myself in Holden's position recently with a friend that I've gotten to liking but with almost no chance of anything happening.

As it turns out, the speech does work with Alyssa and they end up together which leads to a whole different set of complications for Holden. It also shows his general naivety and plain ignorance. This can be traced back to an earlier conversation that Holden and Alyssa have about lesbian sex. He cannot understand what women get out of sex without a penis. Alyssa has had plenty of lovers, but they were all women, so technically she is still a virgin. Way to completely belittle her there! It's kind of funny though because while what he is saying is stupid, it is pretty much how guys think. For instance, guys love the idea of lesbian sex because it is harmless fun and not as meaningful as "real" sex with a man. Tell a guy that this girl has been in a threesome with another woman and they will think she is hot. Tell him that she's been in a threesome with two men and he will think she's a total slut.

So when it turns out that Alyssa has been adventurous with men before Holden doesn't know how to handle it so he goes off on her and sees her completely different. Every guy has been in this situation too. For some reason guys just need to know how many guys their girlfriends have been with which is just retarded because no matter what she says you're not going to like the answer. And what does that matter anyways whether it is one guy or thirty as long as she is with you now? Her past is her past and has nothing to do with you now. Of course Holden behaves like any normal guy, which is to say stupidly and they get into a fight that is 100% his fault and easily avoidable. But at the heart of that question "How many guys have you been with?" is a deeper rooted insecurity. If a girl is too experienced in a guy's mind, he will feel inadequate and intimidated and always wondering if he is good enough for her. I've definitely felt this way around some girls whether justly or not; it's just how guys are wired. So at this point in the movie, I can kind of understand Holden but at the same time am seriously pissed at him because he's behaving like such a retard. But that is what I think is so good about the film, it captures a man's real weakness so well. What really surprised me though is the solution that Holden has to try to fix his relationship with Alyssa. I don't want to give anything away, but I couldn't believe it. Can someone really be this stupid? It really shows that he never really understood Alyssa at all and further proves the point that some guys behave like idiots when it comes to relationships.

Chasing Amy is a funny, touching, and sometimes painful film about the nature of relationships. If I were to have one complaint is that while I think Kevin Smith writes good dialogue I feel like his tone is the same for every character. Everyone sounds the same and this was true in Clerks as well. It is a minor complaint though because I enjoy these types of conversations that the characters have, which is basically about anything and everything. There isn't really anything noteworthy about Kevin Smith's visual style as a director, but he has a distinct voice as a writer.

Grade: B+

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