Two Perfect Endings of Films Where Things Don't End Well...
(this blog entry obviously is all about spoilers, so unless you have seen these two movies, or don't mind know how they end, you may not want to go any further).
Lots of movies have happy endings. Lots of movies have endings that wrap everything up nicely, bending over backwards to make sure things work out in the end. Most commonly teen films and love stories want you to walk out of the theater laughing and feeling good about life, so they don't end on a sour note. But how often does life turn around and fuck you up? Tearing your dreams down off the pedestal and pummeling your heart? Granted that is not the kind of movie that makes millions at the box office, but that IS the kind of movie that often resonates with people as years go by. In the last six months I saw two movies for the first time, that now sit among the most honest movies about relationships, love and heartache I can say I have ever seen. One, a recent film, that made my top ten films of last year, that I have honestly become more than a little obsessed with. The other an 80's teen sex comedy, that is more subversive than people will ever have you believe, a film that slipped under my radar for years. Both films have impactful endings that leave you shattered.
BELLFLOWER (2011)Bellflower tells the story of a young man who falls hard for a girl, as he and his best friend spend most of their time obsessing on MAD MAX, building a flame thrower and a giant muscle care they call Medusa. When the relationship goes bad his world collapses into a personal apocalypse that he cannot find his way out of, leaving a trail of wreckage in the wake, some of which may or may not be in his head.
The film is an intense visual experience that captures that extreme feeling of heartbreak. That "in the trenches" feeling one gets where nothing feels like it will ever be ok, where your insides feel broken, and you grasp at anything to make you feel whole again. This usually happens to people in their late mid to late twenties (though not always) and BELLFLOWER captures it so perfectly that it is almost a horror film to watch for anyone who has ever loved that deeply and lost that hard.
The end scene, finds the two best friends fantasizing about hitting the open road in the car they have build to escape the hurt. His best friend waxing philosophical about how their hero from THE ROAD WARRIOR would never allow women to destroy him the way their hearts are broken now. The final lines of the movie wrapping up not only the movie, but exactly how anyone who has lost someone feels.
THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN (1983)
Loosely based on the Isrealie import series of films called LEMON POPSICLE this on the surface appears to be yet another tits and ass, young boys attempt to get laid comedy. And at times that is all it is as three teen friends go about their last year of high school with various misadventures doing just that. But the lead young man is the main thrust of the story as we follow how he has fallen in love with the pretty new girl in school but never quite makes it work in catching her. Instead his Lothario, womanizing best friend hooks up with her instead. So he gets to watch throughout the film as his buddy makes time with her AND continues to bang all the woman in the various wacky hijinx they get into. Our hero never really makes good in getting laid, either backing out, or it goes really, really wrong such as he and all his buddies get crabs from the nasty hooker they all finally do bed down with. Sex never works out for him at all. When his friend finally does crack the panty line of his one true love she ends up pregnant and naturally he dumps her. Our hero swoops in and in an act of insane chivalry, not only gets her an abortion, but takes care of her for a week. Taking her in while everyone is away on a ski trip. They end up playing house, have sex and he thinks - falling in love. It seems like his world is where it should be and everything he hoped for is right where he wants. He even buys her a ring. Leading to the ending, one of the most emotionally heart ripping, endings of the 80's.
It is the most honest ending of any teen movie of the era. You can have your John Hughes movies (as good as many of them are). THIS is how life often is. The good guy finishes not only last, but driving into the night with his heart shattered, his guts splattered and not way to know if he will ever be ok again.
© Andrew Copp