Friday, October 12, 2007
It was nice to get out and do something that's been an off-and-on comfort for me since I've moved back to Charlottetown. I went to City Cinema by myself, got my coffee and dark chocolate Zero bar, and took up my obligatory spot in the front row on the right to see a movie I'm sure most people would resent me for getting them to come with me to see.
Eagle vs. Shark on Wikipedia: Link. Coles Notes version of the plot is that Lily, an awkward and whimsical fast food employee has a crush on a customer who comes in at the same time every day and gets the same thing, and is just as short and unconversational with her as every other customer. But she paints all sorts of qualities onto him to the point that she can seem to put up with any amount of rudeness and selfish behaviour as they meet at a dress-up party and start a relationship. She then follows him to his home town and meets his strange family as he prepares to get revenge on a school bully using his martial arts skills.
This film is taking an analogous place in my mind to the film Napoleon Dynamite as the British version of The Office has to the American version. Where Michael Scott is as socially myopic as David Brent, him and Napoleon Dynamite are still portrayed as sympathetic characters whom you want things to turn out well for in the end. But in this film Jarrod is the worst kind of dork. Not a 'nerd', because as Milhouse put so well, "nerds are smart". The actor, Jemaine Clement, captures the petulant, self-absorbed, pathologically lying and completely un-empathetic social outcast that doesn't have the redeeming qualities of the stereotypical late-blooming hard-working geek.
Something else the film hits on very acutely is the unaspirant service industry class that many twenty-somethings fall into, where their social eccentricities are tolerated much more than in the corporate world, and who get by at their jobs in video game stores and fast food restaurants and come home to try and make a go at finding a life outside of work, but the lack of focus that hampers their working life leaves them floundering at hobbies like Lilly's songwriting and Jarrod's bizarre obsessions with candle-making and revenge. You see similar stories of people around here in call centres and other entry-level jobs. Not the traditional working class who could make a go at getting a decent manufacturing job and eventually support a family and take up a respected role in society. This emerging generation has no pre-set plan laid out for them. And I think the film captures the essence of young people facing a life in a world that doesn't seem to have anything to offer them eerily well.
The important progression of the story has Jarrod getting perpetually colder to Lilly to try and push her away before she rejects him, but she stubbornly keeps on believing that there's someone worth being with inside there. And what makes this movie distinct from what you'd expect from an American movie is the fact that there may in fact not be a likeable person under there. The viewer spends the whole film wishing the prick would just go away and that the poor girl would find someone who was nicer to her. It does end on a nice note, though, so don't let me leave you with the impression that this movie wasn't enjoyable, it was. But in the most awkward way of getting around to it as I can imagine.