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Lost In Translation 2

The Writer’s Room: Favorite Film Relationships

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While Valentine’s Day is considered the most love-oriented holiday of the year, with a heavy emphasis on the love of a romantic partner, other loving relationships tend to be overlooked. Love influences our lives in so many ways, from how we express love for others to how others show us love, including family, friends, and even our animal companions. These non-romantic love relationships have been the driving force of many beloved films, including E.T., To Sir with Love, A Dog’s Purpose, Lilo and Stich, and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.

In honor of Valentine’s Day 2024, the writers share our favorite non-romantic love relationships in film and the impact they have on us.


Marleen Apodaca, Blogger

My Girl

My Girl (1991):

Love is a spectrum that ranges from familial love to the platonic affection that we have for our friends. My Girl definitely touches on the different types of love that exist. Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) is an 11-year-old girl who spends the summer of 1972 playing in the woods with her best friend, Thomas J. Sennett (Macaulay Culkin). Both children are two unpopular peas in a pod since Vada is obsessed with death and Thomas J. is allergic to everything. She also spends her summer caring for her senile grandmother while her father, Harry (Dan Aykroyd), manages the town’s funeral parlor, which also happens to be their home.

Although My Girl involves some romance between Vada’s father and the parlor’s makeup artist, the film mostly focuses on the loyalty between two best friends. Vada has love for Thomas J. despite being rough around the edges. She also has a crush on her fifth-grade teacher, Mr.Bixler, and joins his adult summer poetry class. I find it endearing and hilarious that Vada has feelings for her teacher. This movie is so relatable in terms of all the kinds of connections that we may have experienced in our lives.

At its core, this movie may not be considered a traditional romance movie, it still captures all aspects of love. It is an exploration of human connection, and it reminds me of my childhood days that involved riding bikes with best friends during the scorching summers. There are dimensions and layers to friendship that may even go beyond one’s logic. My Girl reminds us that love comes in many shapes and sizes, and sometimes, the most profound bonds are those that transcend romantic ideals.


Justina Bonilla, Blogger

Cronos

Cronos (1992):

The love in Cronos that the grandfather, Jesus (Federico Luppi), has for his granddaughter, Auora (Tamara Xanath) resembles the close relationship I had with my grandfather. Growing up, I had a deep bond with my grandfather like Auroa. I learned a lot from him and loved him very much. He inspired my love for the arts, a deep curiosity for life, and a passion for writing. When he was younger, he had dreamed of pursuing writing but instead chose a life with my grandmother.

When my grandfather died in 2015, I was devastated. It’s still the most heartbreaking death of my life. Right after his passing, I saw Cronos. Guillermo del Toro beautifully encapsulates the beauty of a grandparent-grandchild relationship and the pain of watching someone you love so profoundly fall apart right in front of you and you can’t do anything about it. Regardless, you still love them with all your heart because you know that under that decay, the person you love is still there. At the end of his life, my grandfather struggled with dementia and Alzheimer’s and passed because of complications from them.

While I can appreciate the innovative and Gothic artistic style of the film and the practical effects, the love del Toro injects into the film is the most potent part of Cronos. Through Cronos,I feel as though I can relive a lifetime of memories with my grandfather, from being a little girl playing with him, to being by his side with our family when he left with the sunlight. And with del Toro being from Guadalajara, Mexico like my grandfather, it binds me tighter to the film.


Charlotte Brungardt, Blogger

Minari

Minari (2020):

One of Minari’s greatest strengths is its deeply authentic portrayal of children. The young Yi siblings, Anne and David, have distinctive and imperfect personalities. Rather than being symbols, stand-ins, or vessels for unexpectedly sage advice, they are selfish and immature as even the best children always are. Minari resists the temptation to flatten its children into props for the adults’ stories and strikes a perfect balance between acknowledging these unpleasant elements of childhood and emphasizing them so much as to make our young protagonists intolerable. Alan Kim as David gives a standout performance for a child actor and perfectly portrays the film’s philosophy towards childhood and family in his exquisite dynamic with Soon-ja, the grandmother of the Yi family, performed masterfully by Youn Yuh-jung.

However, this familial bond gets off to a rocky start. David has deeply internalized the American notion of a grandmother, one that is at odds with the distinctly Korean sensibilities of Soon-ja and initially causes him to reject her outright. Soon-ja’s eccentric, sometimes forceful, personality doesn’t alleviate his discomfort. After several aborted attempts to forge a connection, their primary touchstone ends up being the source of the film’s title, minari, a small perennial herb that resembles parsley and celery. As Soon-ja notes when planting its seeds in the soil of a creek at the edge of the Yis’ rural plot, minari is known for its resilience and versatility. Though David is initially uninterested, the implicit lesson seeps into the very fabric of the Yi family, a sort of mantra to encapsulate their persistent pursuit of an ideal which is often hostile to them. Just as the water celery they plant is a balm to the film’s near-ruinous climax, the developing rapport between Soon-ja and David creates a sometimes humorous and sometimes touching subplot that initially gives the audience respite from the increasingly contentious relationship between the married Jacob and Monica, even as it serves to land one of the film’s biggest emotional gut-punches.


Anthony McKelroy, Blogger

Go West

Go West (1925):

People are always coming up to me and asking, “Hey Anthony, who did Buster Keaton have the most onscreen chemistry with? Was it Kathryn McGuire, the dancer he shared the screen with back-to-back in 1924’s The Navigator and Sherlock Jr.? Or was it the great Sybil Seely in One Week, Keaton’s first work as an independent producer? And what about Keaton’s first wife, Natalie Talmadge, of the Talmadge showbiz dynasty, who he shared the screen with only once, in 1923’s Our Hospitality?

And I have to tell them every time, “You fools! Those are merely actors. No human being on Earth ever had more on-screen chemistry with Buster Keaton than his animal costars did! Take Luke the Dog for example – he appeared alongside Keaton and Roscoe Arbuckle during their earliest collaborations together in the mid-1910s. Josephine the capuchin monkey, already a professional working actor in Hollywood by 1928, played a key role in Keaton’s final film as a director, The Cameraman. But none,” I tell them, “None of these performances ever got anywhere near as transcendent as it did in 1925 with a little brown cow called Brown Eyes in Keaton’s desert masterpiece, Go West.”

Credited as “Herself,” Brown Eyes is one of many bovine specimens on a cattle farm somewhere in the southwest (actually shot on location in Kingman, AZ) that bonds with Keaton’s character after he removes a rock from her hoof. This gentle act on the rough frontier is what separates Keaton’s character – named “Friendless” – from the veteran ranch hands that surround them. Friendless and Brown Eyes are soon eating together, conspiring together, and protecting each other from danger after only a day. First sight. It’s pure acting, pure experience, captured out of thin air.

It’s not romance, but on screen it’s definitely some kind of love.


Connor Davis, Blogger

Lost In Translation

Lost in Translation (2003):

Love is an interesting catch-all: you love your partner; you love your dog; you love your siblings. Love is love, I say, in all forms. And it’s confusing. It’s hard. It’s beautiful. Sometimes it is so, so painful. And not many films navigate this intoxicating feeling in one specific form with so much poignancy as Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation.

The film’s “couple” is Bob (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), disaffected Americans jet-lagged and existential in Tokyo. They’re a long way from home but somehow further from themselves. When they first encounter each other by chance in the hotel bar, the environment alien and bustling, high up in the building overlooking the sprawl that is the Japanese capital, the two fall into conversation with the greatest of ease.

Throughout the film, the two explore the largest metropolis in the world, mostly at night, sometimes with Japanese locals but always together. It is clear from the beginning that there is a connection there. Their sardonic quips and warm smiles and moments of questionably long eye contact tell us as much. But the audience is left a bit confused as to the true feelings held by each party.

But here lies the thesis of the film: there are these strong connections that one time in our lives feel so intoxicating but evaporate like the dew in mid-morning. They just don’t work. Whether it is a relationship proper, a friendship, or an emotional affair, few of us are foreign to this weird and life-halting experience of brief but powerful love. And, as is the case with Bob and Charlotte, their love, whatever it may contain, cannot be realized for various reasons.

In the final scene where Bob and Charlotte embrace, Bob whispers something inaudible into Charlotte’s ear. We can’t know what he says. And we never will. And this directorial choice highlights both their unique relationship and even the inability to describe the love they share for each other. It transcends language and reason.


 

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