Valentine's Day can be pretty awful. There's
just a lot of pressure: if you have a significant other, there are
multi-million-dollar ad campaigns to
convince you that if no one's giving or receiving diamonds this year, then maybe things aren't actually working out
after all. And if you're not in a relationship, it's even worse - you get this cultural pat on the head, as if to say,
"Oh, honey. Maybe things'll get better next year. In the meantime, here's a
Meg Ryan movie - now go eat some trans fat." Blech.
Love is much more difficult than what holiday marketing mandates have time to deal with. It doesn't make the kind of sharp-angled sense that can be measured in karats, or reflected in choppy blonde hairstyles. And so, with that in mind, over the course of the next 24 hours I shall present a list of fractured love stories, for the happily paired and bitterly single alike, via which we might cut through the cultural mandates of February 14 and make it through to Tuesday relatively unscathed:
After every break-up, I watch this, Woody Allen's 1977 masterpiece about a nebishy comedy writer (Allen, duh) and Annie (Diane Keaton), the insecure singer he meets, dates, loves and then loses to Paul Simon and the lure of L.A. It's wonderous therapy, ennacted through its wholeness of vision. Allen takes a perfectly fine romance, which on its own could have been the subject of any-old Hollywood film, and then opens up the story of Alvy's life in all directions around it. We see how Annie changed Alvy and how she didn't, that there was life before her and - even though whilst driving through the streets of Los Angeles looking for her, Alvy himself probably doesn't believe it - there is certainly life after. We're used to seeing films that cut romances off at their peak, before life inserts itself, and makes things messy and real; Annie Hall situates a romance in a life. It satisfies in a way that the sappiest, happiest ending never could.
More to come!