Admittedly, there is some witty, satirical commentary on the current state of courting among the millennial set. But for the most part, the circumstances and jokes that ultimately lead Natalie to a greater understanding of love's more altruistic properties and purposes don't rise above the usual shtick seen in any run-of-the-mill TV sitcom.
The phone rang, as it usually does whenever I'm sitting in the third-floor witch's hat of my haunted Victorian home in some gothic-like, small New England town with a dark past, anguishing over my Oscar picks. The voice at the other end sounded like Alec Baldwin at first.
Once upon a time, a screenwriter penning a fantasy that painted him into a corner could flee the strictures of his premise and weave a magical ending by suddenly having his protagonist awake from a dream, i.e., "The Wizard of Oz" (1939). Now, as employed in "Serenity," the Brave New Cyber World has created a newfangled escape clause for fiction writers needing to explain away flights of fancy for which there is no logical explanation, at least not in our old, plain, three-dimensional world.
I and my Baby Boomer ilk were introduced to the legends via morning and midafternoon movie shows on TV in the '50s, when stations rented their films at bargain basement prices. We immediately loved them and claimed them for our generation.
Anyone with a heart and a half-decent upbringing will be abashed by the stark divulgences about intolerance in America so artfully unearthed as Mahershala Ali's Don Shirley, the world famous pianist, is escorted on his tour through the Deep South by Viggo Mortensen's Tony Lip.
All this self-indulgent perspective noted, I thank director Bryan Singer for jogging these memories into high-relief via his superb biographical film, "Bohemian Rhapsody," which astutely and soulfully details the birth of the group Queen and the star trajectory of its lead singer, Freddie Mercury.
Such hyperbolic self-examination, while exaggerated for my own literary purposes here, is nonetheless proof of what a fine period piece this film is. Still, while boasting Keira Knightley in a superb title portraiture, those indifferent to belles-lettres and avant-garde sensibilities need not apply.
We all know one or more couples who confound us entirely; folks who appear to be tragically immersed in a marriage made in Hell, and yet, for none of the usual rationalizations, like kids money or religion, persevere in their obviously troubled plight.
If you were already of the mindset that we regular folks are helpless at the hands of the moneyed interests both above and below ground, who are of course in cahoots, this film will throw further fuel on your fire of disgruntlement.
Translation: It's a love story, but a hesitant one worried about all the baggage Cupid must drag over the finish line if the fabled musician and the modest docent are to sail off into the sunset. We have hope, but also allow for the possibility that reality will rear its devastating head.
Whether it's a simple matter of history repeating itself or the dynamic of readily available similarities and metaphors offering us insight into our own current debacle, the hairs on the back of our necks stand up when Eichmann scoffs at the notion of truth ("Whose truth?" he rants) and calls Jews animals. Sound familiar?
We know full well that for every passive Agnes who experiences an epiphany regarding her plight and potential, there are tens of thousands resigned to suffering in quiet desperation. There will be no police coming to their homes, no counselor offering a safe house or a cellular phone until Madame Surreptitiously Abused can find a life away from her thankless condition. It is a quiet
violence. At best maybe she's had a longtime confidante to hear her unaddressed cries.
This is stirring stuff, devotedly ferrying the viewer from intriguing adventure yarn to the realization that racism, whether in its inept reaction to inner-city violence or through the reckless injustice perpetuated at our borders, has tacitly become official policy.