Thursday, February 5, 2009

Happy Endings

This post contains spoilers for Once, Memoirs of a Geisha and (possibly) this season of The Bachelor. If you don't want to know the endings of this movie, book or reality wonder, perhaps you should stop reading now.

I've always been a fan of happy endings. In fact, I think I have ruined certain novels for myself by letting the lack of a happy ending get in the way of my otherwise positive feelings for the novel (like Portrait of a Lady. Of course, I stayed up until 3 a.m. finishing it for class so I don't really remember what happened and I thought I was smart enough to know better than to expect joy from Henry James, but whatever. The book deserves a re-read.). As I've gotten older I've started to appreciate the bittersweet and/or the miserable endings. I've also realized that books without happy endings tend to earn more respect and we tend to view them as better quality. Think about the GREAT writers: Faulkner, Hemingway, Joyce...not too heavy on the fairy tale endings. The "greater" pieces of Shakespeare are his tragedies. My beloved Jane Austen is often criticized for how happy her books are. (Apparently no one's read Mansfield Park.) "Let other pens dwell on guilt or misery," Austen said. I've been reflecting on if a happy or not-so-happy ending is better since I expierienced one of each the other night and was dissatisfied with both.

First, I watched the movie Once. Once does not necessarily have an unhappy ending, but it leaves many questions unanswered and the sexual tension is not resolved. Girl decides to try to make things work with her husband (Normally I totally support this, but at the start of the movie they were separated and her husband was living in another country and she was so great with the Guy.) and Guy goes to London with the demo they've just finished to try to get signed by a record label and make things work with his cheating ex. Girl and Guy don't even kiss. I was disappointed. Overall though, really cute movie! Top-notch soundtrack.

Then I stayed up past my bedtime finishing Memoirs of a Geisha. Memoirs actually had a very happy ending. The impossible happens and Sayuri gets everything she wants. She spends the whole book going on about how foolish it was of her to hope that the Chairman wanted her and then he does. Sayuri's foolish plan to have Nobu discover her with the General (so he won't want to take her as his mistress so she can still be available if the Chairman ever cares) actually works. Not entirely as planned, but then it works. It was crazy. It was as if Pip had discovered that Miss Havisham was his benefactoress all along and he was destined to be with Stella. I found this all odd and a little lame, but I don't know why. I'm the one who sees no problem with Mr. Darcy arranging Lydia and Wickham's marriage, or Rachel getting off the plane, or the entirety of When Harry Met Sally. I feel very hypocritical for my scepticism about Memoirs but I have always had fairly fickle tastes.

In impending happy endings...
Down to four ladies on The Bachelor and I'm cheering for Melissa. Thanks to an over-zealous viewer, evidence has been revealed that my cheers are rightly placed!

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