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Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Lot Like Love

I watched A Lot Like Love on DVD again the other night. This is the second time I've seen the movie. When I see a movie I like, I watch it several times to pick up all the little things I missed the first time or two. This particular movie intrigued me because of the male/female interaction. For seven years Oliver (Ashton Kutcher) and Emily (Amanda Peet) have been on again off again. They obviously love each other but they are in different places in their lives and never can seem to get on the same path. So, in an odd sort of way, they remain friends.

Up until recent years, I've always had a lot more female friends than male friends. But the inevitable problem always came up—either I fell for her or she fell for me and the friendship line became blurred. Back and forth we'd go, and eventually one of us would "move on" and the other person would be hurt (usually me). Not a great cycle to keep falling into—but I really didn't fall into it. I chose it for a number of reasons, which I'll save for another post. But I was interested to see how Oliver and Emily worked things out because they were certainly more than friends for brief periods, but then they'd realize they needed to separate and go their own ways.

That leads me to the thing that really intrigued me about them—they didn't try to force the relationship. When Emily first meets Oliver, he's living with his mother and sister—which, as you might imagine, is a bit embarrassing for Oliver. He tells Emily that he has a six year plan to success. At first, it seems like Oliver is just making it up to show Emily that he really does have an idea about where he is heading. But, then he sets out to implement his plan—which includes opening an online diaper service.

He either came up with his plan on the fly, or he really had one all along. But three years pass and Emily, fresh out of a relationship, decides to call Oliver to see if he'll go to a New Year's Eve party with her. They hit it off again and their affections deepen. They go back to Oliver's place (at that point, he finally has a place) and Oliver tells Emily that he's moving to another city the next day to start up his diaper business. Emily falls asleep (or passes out) and when she wakes up, Oliver is gone.

He could have stayed. Maybe he should have, but their pattern has been such that they're never on the same page and he has no intention of waiting around for something that doesn't look like it's going to happen. He has a plan and he's going to stick to it. In fact, his plan becomes his identify and I'm sure in his mind, it was the thing that made him attractive to Emily. I was torn at this point in the movie. I was hoping he'd take a chance, but at the same time, I sort of saw his point.

Back and forth it goes for the rest of the movie. Each time, their love seems to grow deeper for one another. Finally, Oliver takes a chance (after his company has gone under) and serenades Emily—after which he says, "Emily. I'm flat broke. I don't have a job. I don't have a plan. And I know I'm probably six years too late. But will you give me strike one back?" (Strike one was that she had to make the first move.) Turns out that Emily is engaged.

As Oliver turns to leave he says: "Well, I guess when I'm an old man I'll never have to wonder 'what if?'"

I'm thinking, "OH yes you will…your question will be altered a little, but it will still include the 'what if' clause. The question will be: 'What if I hadn't waited six years?'"

Emily responds by reaching for his hand, and then embracing him. No words. But her actions, specifically her eyes that follow him as he walks away, tell you all you need to know. Six months later, and much closer to marriage, she looks at her fiancé as somebody is talking to him about their future and again, her eyes give her away. Her eyes, and heart, belong to somebody else.

She finds a roll of undeveloped film taken by Oliver and after the pictures are developed, she realizes that he took photos of her (in a non-creepy, non-stalker sort of way) a few minutes before they even met and she realizes that in a way, he did make the first move. And finally, finally, they get together.

Love is about taking risks. In fact during one portion of the movie Emily says this to Oliver: "Honestly, if you're not willing to sound stupid, you don't deserve to be in love." I think she's right. And I think it's that desire to not sound or look stupid that holds a lot of us back from taking a risk—either in love or anything else. But if the worst thing that can happen is that we look foolish, then who cares? Really? The people who laugh are usually the people who don't take risks. Endure the laughter and take a chance.


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