Thursday, March 23, 2017

Movie Crushes

Clockwise from top: Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman,
Black Lively in Age of Adaline, Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany's
A couple weeks ago, I watched Age of Adaline for the first time.  It had been sitting in my Netflix queue for the longest time, and my rotation of receiving movies on DVD (a much slower rotation than my viewing of streaming movies) finally brought Age of Adeline to the top of the list.

When it arrived, I let it sit for a few days until I had an opportunity to watch it.  To be frank, I didn't have a burning desire to see it right away.  From everything I had heard about the film, it sounded like very predictable fare.  But, I was interested to see Harrison Ford in it as he had gotten some good notices for his performance.  And, I wanted to see the actor who plays Ford's character as a young man, as he is supposed to have an uncanny impression of both Ford's mannerisms and voice.

However, when I started watching it, what I did not expect was to witness a revelatory performance by Blake Lively, whose most notable roles thus far have been in the awful Green Lantern film and the TV show, Gossip Girls.

As the movie went on, I was drawn to the grace and maturity Lively projects as a woman who has inexplicably stopped aging.  I couldn't take my eyes off her whenever she was on screen.  Not only is she incredibly beautiful in the film, but her performance was so soulful that I can say without hyperbole that I was deeply moved emotionally.  Everything about me as a man was fully charged by how this character spoke, how she walked, and how she always seemed to be holding back a little something from the other characters as well as the audience.

In short, I was crushing on the character of Adaline in a major way.  And, I want to make a clear distinction: I was indeed crushing on Adaline, not Blake Lively.  I'm not so deluded as to crush on someone I haven't met, and I am smart enough to know that an actress's performance in a film in no way represents who she is as a person.  Plus, she's married to Ryan Reynolds, so there is no way I could ever compete with that.

Still, I was crushing, and it made me think back to times when I had similar feelings wash over me when watching movies.

My first true movie crush occurred when I was fifteen years old and watched Pretty Woman for the first time.  Julia Roberts was a relatively unknown film actress at the time, who had garnered some success with her performance in Steel Magnolias.  But, it was her role as Vivian in Pretty Woman that propelled her to super stardom.

The first time I saw Roberts walk out in that red formal gown was the first time I was truly charmed by feminine beauty and grace, albeit slightly awkward grace as Vivian is defined by a somewhat gangly and uncertain demeanor.  The shapeliness she has in that dress, though, the gentle womanly curves she displays, all had me enthralled.  And that laugh.  A guffaw really, when Richard Gere pretends to close the jewelry box on her hand.  A genuine and honest reaction which would hearten most men and give them a resounding sense of accomplishment should they succeed in making a woman laugh like that.

I wouldn't be dumbfounded in such a way again until I watched Breakfast At Tiffany's a few years later.  The casual elegance of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly sitting in a window sill singing "Moon River" filled my heart with something I can't quite express, a longing maybe, some sort of ache.  Holly emerges briefly framed in that window, her guard down, dressed in a sweater and slacks, and manages to be more enchanting than she has thus far been in the whole film.

The simplicity of the scene is an enticement in and of itself.  It makes the mystery surrounding Holly seem within reach, knowable.  Personally, I am most taken by the dust rag in her hair.  So commonplace, so ordinary, yet she wears it as some kind of crown, an accessory to her natural beauty and style.

As I write this, I know that it is very easy to think I'm just spouting on and on about some movie stars I think are hot.  True, I find Hepburn, Roberts, and Lively to be very beautiful women, but my crushes are more than some expression of libidinous desire.  They are about the projection of my own emotional needs onto these fictional characters, and what qualities I respond to in a woman.  Not a reality based reaction by any stretch of the imagination, but I do find it fascinating how we can become emotionally attached to people we see in a movie.

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