(If you haven’t seen Vanilla Sky, be warned that reading this post will give away important information about the end of the movie. You have been warned.)
I have Vanilla Sky on DVD, thanks in part to my sister. A lot of people I know didn’t like this movie very much. A lot of critics thought it was simply a disappointment. I think most people just didn’t get it, or were expecting too much from it. It isn’t the Sixth Sense. I watched it twice while it was in theatres, and the second time I didn’t really see much that I hadn’t already noticed the first time around. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a good movie.
In fact, I just watched it for the first time since it was in theatres. I don’t know if it was my frame of mind going into it or actual emotional content of the movie, but it really hit me hard. Most of the movie wants you to think you’re watching a love story, where a man is changed by love to become a better person. If you know the whole story, you know it is much deeper and much darker than that. It is the story of a love story that never was. Not boy meets girl, they fall in love and live happily ever after.
Boy meets girl, they begin to fall in love, boy is mutilated and maimed by his stalker, boy becomes so depressed about basically never seeing the girl he could have loved again that he kills himself. Girl has to live her life without a boy she could have loved and eventually dies. Boy was rich and had himself frozen for 150 years, during which he does nothing but dream of and obsess about the girl. Finally, boy is ressurected into a world he knows nothing about, where girl is long dead, and he must live his life without the girl until he too, eventually dies for good.
When Julie was asking David to get into the car with her, I pleaded for him not to. I knew what was coming, and in my heart I ached for the love lost at that very moment between David and Sophia. When David was dreaming of happiness together with Sophia, there was a swelling and warmth in my chest as though love could be real. I followed David down the road to insanity, not understanding how something so beautiful could be torn apart by one crazy woman. Later, when everything is being revealed to David and we see his memorial, and wee see Sophia, I was sobbing, my face wet with tears because I knew … she could have loved him… he didn’t have to die… she would die never knowing him, and he would be forced to live again without her. None of it was necessary. If only they had talked to each other. It could have been just as beautiful as his dream. They didn’t have to live, and die, alone.
* * *
I cry when I watch City of Angels, too. There’s this moment where we know they only had that one night together, she’ll be dead and he’ll have to live and die without ever seeing her again. I cried when I saw it in the theater, and I’ve cried every time I’ve seen t since. There’s a moment in Practical Magic where my heart nearly wrenches out of my chest and I feel the same wild desperation as Sally from the first moment I hear the sound of that Beetle, and I know the man she loves, the father of her children, is about to be seperated from her forever and there is nothing she can do about it, and before we can even see the truck that kills him, I’m crying. Every time.
I watch these movies, and others, again and again. I become involved with the characters, with their lives. For a few moments while Sally and Michael are happy together, for the one night that Seth and Maggie are able to be alive together, during both the dream and the one night of real connection between David and Sophia, I am able to feel that spark, that rush, that swelling of the chest that love is. I have been out of love in my own life for several years now. No prospects or expectations that that will change. I’m beginning to let myself believe this may be forever, that I’m better to have loved at all since I won’t be doing it again. These movies, even though they also show us the loss of that love, show us love. They let me feel, for a few minutes while I sit alone at home in the dark on yet another Saurday night, what it was like to be in love again.
No one I have loved has died in my arms. I have not lost anyone to death, but rather to circumstance and bad behavior. When I watch Vanilla Sky, beyond the heart-wrenching, uplifting, insane ride it takes me on, I am reminded that the only thing that made their love so sad was that they gave up on it. He hid himself away and didn’t do anything about his love for her. She could have loved him, but was afraid of him. While he was still alive, he had the chance to live better, to show her she didn’t need to be afraid, to let love have a chance. It reminds me that as long as I’m still alive, I still have a chance. I shouldn’t give up just because of some difficulty along the way.
I’m not dead yet.