Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Romantic, The Writer and The Sociologist

I just watched Before Sunset (2004). I heard about it on the special Unseen: France during a segment on the bookstore Shakespeare and Company I watched earlier that afternoon. I’m so glad I watched the movie. It totally put me in the mood for romance, friendship, writing, Paris and Tom all at once. It touched on all the “what ifs” in life and getting second chances. The writer in me loved the dialogue, the screenplay. I’m inspired to go back to the screenplays I wrote around the same time (2002-2004). I remember I’d come up with my elevator speech about how I write character-based screenplays. It was the characters, what they said and how they said it that moved a story from FADE IN to FADE OUT.

And I saw myself, past, present and future in the film. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been on those “walk and talk” dates like the one in Before Sunset. The conversation flows to family, beliefs, food, sex. I know men relate better side-by-side than they do face-to-face and maybe that’s why I’ve had such memorable moments talking to men. Kudos to Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy for their chemistry (and the script); natural, fluid. The way Jesse’d gaze at her adoringly and make self-deprecating jokes about sex in an attempt to flirt, let his intentions be known but also protect himself at the same time. That whole scenario is the perfect date for me. Spend time with me without the frills. Like CĂ©line said in the film, everyone is different; every person has their own unique details. And no one can be replaced. I love being given the opportunity to find out what it is that makes you unique.

I could go on forever about all the things I loved about the movie, how I related to it. It resonated so vividly, how it made my desire to visit Paris even stronger, my desire to write, just… my desire.

I had a conversation with a good friend a few days ago and she asked if I was going to finish my novel. This is a novel I haven’t touched since maybe 2006. I wrote the 20 chapters in 2004. Part of me doesn’t think I’d be able to finish it in the same voice I started. I’m older and wiser now. I wrote the novel in the voice of Morgan Lewis who can be thought of as my alter ego. Morgan is different now too. And at the time I wrote that, my life was imitating art. I was depressed when I wrote it, but I wrote it about a young woman coming out of her depression.

Before Sunset begins with Jesse at a book signing and a member of the audience asks him if his novel is autobiographical. His explanation: everything you write is autobiographical, written through the keyhole you view the world through. So do I send Morgan through a time-warp or do I go back to my “former self” (the title of my novel is “Letters to My Former Self”)? I totally see all the pieces fitting together.

I don’t believe people change. And they discussed that in the film. At the core of your being, your innate self doesn’t change. You can change your situation and that may force you to adapt your behavior for a time but your basic traits, your natural disposition do not change. So maybe I’m not so different from the depressed young woman who was writing that novel years ago. My depression is the reason I wasn’t even aware of this movie. Next up in my queue: Before Sunrise. I watched the sequel before the original, so in a sense I will be going back in time. Back to my former self.

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