A Movie Review for the Bookish at Heart
It took me a minute. This movie was about a man who spends three years of his life waiting for his wife to return to him – even though they are divorced and she has married someone else. This movie is about the third year and how he handles the emotional struggles of his two nearly adult children. And yes, I realized after my husband posed the question, this movie is about four writers – lots of book lovers – and has many literary references.
Greg Kinnear’s character has won two Penn Faulkner Awards. His oldest daughter is 19 and has just published her first novel through Scribner. His younger son, also having been groomed to write his whole life, is a poet and short story writer obsessed with Stephen King. Jennifer Connelly (the ex-wife) can be found reading Joan Didion in bed. Books are tossed around the set like old friends and are active characters in the movie as well, perched on shelves and end tables, strewn across laps at the beach.
I had not noticed until my husband pointed it out. I had not noticed because it was so familiar. I had not noticed because I live with these stacks of souls trapped in bindings all over my house. Sitting at the kitchen table, watching the sun come up with my coffee, I look out at my table… just here, in the kitchen of all places, I have 10 books, a journal, and a day planner, piled around me. You’d think this was a proper writing desk except for the bowl of orange slices and blueberries, my daughter’s play dough bucket, a United States place mat, and a container of markers.
Granted the houses in Stuck in Love are much nicer than my own. Slightly bigger and the bookshelves are proper built-ins made of mahogany or some-such beautiful woodwork. The end tables were no doubt not retrieved from a neighbor’s discard pile. Yes, that black stone tile end table pictured here on the right came out of the trash. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it and I could care less that it doesn’t match anything else in my house – I shall pile books on it. (Even though I’m supposed to keep all my books in the library and not let them trickle into the rest of the house. Keeping them out of other rooms requires a lot of daily maintenance.)
The people in Stuck in Love aren’t just richer than me, they’re probably much braver than me also. The daughter actually takes creative writing classes in school – whereas I took the safe route and studied marketing. They do what they feel – which results in a lot of really bad decisions. But one thing we do have in common, which I found really refreshing in a secular story, is have a permanence view of marriage. (You don’t find a lot of anyone who shares this worldview, not even among Christians: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=11309913170).
I found a lot of online critics who gave this movie a ‘rotten tomatoes’ rating (the soundtrack, however, gets glowing reviews from everyone). I am not with them (except for the soundtrack lovers). I found it marvelous. It’s a beautiful story about genuine people with a lot of bookish bits. I gave it 5 stars on my Netflix account. I will re-watch it. I will probably compile a list of the character’s books at some point and add them to things to move up my TBR pile (the patriarch can be seen reading Jeffrey Ford as well, but I didn’t catch the title).
Not just for the book lists, the movie is filled with little quotable quotes, little tidbits for book-nerds and writers. Maybe that’s why I like it so much. That and I love that the dad teaches his kids to journal, that he allows them the privacy to write. I love that writing and reading are treated as means to live by, ways to learn, and how to pinpoint your emotions about your reality.
Something so obvious, that I didn’t catch at first glance and my husband did at a brief glimpse, this is a movie for book people.