I don’t think I have been to the first showing of any movie before. I don’t regret going to this one.
It was a movie that met and exceeded all my expectations. Bradley Cooper (The place beyond the pines) directed this one. I went for Lady Gaga but Cooper’s acting and singing surprised me pleasantly. Gaga was impressive. In a juxtaposition to her past work, she is stripped down and vulnerable, nothing like the poised, made-up performer she is on her music records.
I did not know that it was a remake (the fourth version!) and I have not seen the previous versions. There are moments that are poorly done. The first half is much stronger than the second half, which veers into over-explaining and cliches, but the music and the acting carries it through to the end, and what a beautiful end it is.
I had known the basic premise of the film before I went. So I tried to prepare myself for the memories of previous relationship dynamics it would trigger. It was not easy. I am uneasy and reeling still, shaken up.
Over time, again and again, there have been men with authority and power who took an active interest in my career. I stood out often, an exile that never belonged, a woman in a man’s world, emotionally expressive and empathetic in a world of analytical thinkers who don’t have any bandwidth for civic or moral obligations, younger than my peers, from a family that was not characteristic of the country or the society that I came from. So it is not unusual that I attracted attention, and it was not always a negative. In the best cases (unicorn!), they mentored me and pushed me towards my dreams. In the average case, the interest has been to mold me into their make. In the worst case (which was the usual case), it was about power and subjugation with a fair sprinkling of sexual connotations.
The entirety of my experiences in technical education and careers have hardened my resolve to prevent overlapping my more creative work with people I meet from these facets of my life. So much of myself has been touched and changed by the relationships I have had in my education and career, in ways I dislike intensely, that I don’t mind expending a great deal of care and work into keeping my writing (my truths, my soul) separate. Sometimes, work seeps into what is not work. Sometimes, it is the other way around. If you hold resentment and compare yourself to me in matters that aren’t very important to me, however will I cope if you choose to do the same in matters that are important to me? Life and life’s lessons have had me firmly draw the veil between what I share and what I keep to myself. At the same time, I wonder if there comes ever a day where I can be freely myself in a place, in a person, without watching out for myself every instant, in every interaction. That would make the rest of the times where I must be less myself easier.
The main character’s struggle with trust and her decision to trust when she meets someone who resonates reminded me so much of my deep desire to meet someone who holds the same truths in their soul. It was painful, because on days I have no hope of meeting anyone like that, and as the film shows, even meeting someone who holds the same truths is no guarantee of happily ever afters.
It isn’t the pain and the grief I remember from the movie though. I remember their hopes and love, of two souls, ever-lonely and wandering, finding in each other a balm they had not dared to believe existed.