Real-Life Love Stories

imgres-1Movies.  Movie fall into the category of Things I Enjoyed Pre-Kids.  Deciding to see a movie requires PhD research-skills.  My husband or I will scour the Internet for reviews, check Rotten Tomatoes and ask our few friends, who still watch movies, for their opinion before committing 2+ hours of our life to watching a story unfold that most often leaves one of us asleep on the couch before the ending credits roll.  It’s not that we don’t like to watch movies it’s just that we don’t like to watch bad movies.

When the idea of love stories played out on film was first suggested as the theme for 4Mothers this week, my favourite movie titles from yesteryear flooded my brain.

An Affair to Remember.  Casablanca.  Breakfast At Tiffany’s.  Ghost.  Atonement. Two for Road.  Pretty Woman.  The Way We Were.  The Bridges of Madison County. 

I mentally sifted through all of the love stories that are etched in my memory and came to this conclusion.

I am one pathetic case.

Rom-coms, anything with Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson or Katherine Heigl – I will take a pass.  The overwhelming stench of aged Emmental oozing from the television set every time one of these films is playing doesn’t do it for me.  I can’t bear the formulaic storylines:

a)    Goofy, geeky, clumsy girl crushes hard on the devilishly handsome, misunderstood boy. Boy goes on to coax said girl from her wallflower exterior only to reveal a sassy, witty, knock-out who can pound back beer with the boys and has the moves like Jagger in the bedroom.


b)   Boy and girl play cat-and-mouse for 90 minutes with several gaffes, misunderstood text messages and “not-what-it-looks-like” moments.  Throw in a makeover scene and an all-knowing best friend and you have pretty much every movie Kate Hudson has ever made.

Romantic comedies don’t just make my eyes ache from excessive rolling, but I find my mind wanders from the “complexities” of the plot and I mutter “puh-lease” more times in two hours than I did when I watched the Lance Armstrong/Oprah interview.

Who rolls over and plants a sloppy, open-mouthed kiss on someone first thing in the morning?   Puh-lease, morning breath!

Who goes to bed with a full-face of make-up and wakes up looking more beautiful then when they went to bed?  Puh-lease, bright washrooms lighting first thing in the morning is no girl’s friend!

And what about the dialogue?  Who talks like that?  Are couples all around the country having saccharine soaked exchanges all day along?  Are my husband and I the only ones who barely have a second to chat and when we do there is definitely some talk about how many bags of milk are in the fridge.

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” (Says Jennifer to Oliver in Love Story).

Well Jennifer, I am not exactly sure where you came up with this little ditty, but I can think of plenty of times when an “I am sorry” is just the start of the road to forgiveness.

“After all I do for you, you didn’t even have the courtesy to get me a birthday card?” says a wife to her husband.

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” says the husband to the wife.

Try it.  See how well it goes over.

As much as I don’t enjoy overly romantic comedies, I have to admit to a long-standing love affair with Dirty Dancing.  Yes, it has cheesy dialogue (“Nobody puts Baby in a corner!”) and the story line is predictable but the chemistry between Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey is palpable.   imgres-1

Women around the world, put down your 50 Shades of Grey and pick up your remote, because there is no hotter sex scene on-screen than the one between Johnny and Baby when she comes to his cabin in the dark of night.  There is no nudity or vulgar suggestion (Sharon Stone, I am looking at you) but the sexual tension between the two, with Otis Redding playing in the background, will make anyone’s pulse race.

Just like Mac ‘n cheese, and peanut butter and chocolate, there is something inherently feel good about the movie Dirty Dancing but when asked to pick my favourite love story, it doesn’t measure up.

I like my love stories to be real.

Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley adapted Alice Munro’s short story The Bear Came Over the Mountain for her 2006 movie with an all-star cast, Away From Her.

Grant and Fiona have been married for 44 loving and happy years, but a marriage that has endured for more than 4 decades is bound to have its scars.  Grant’s brief infidelity years before haunts Fiona who has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.  Grant, broken by her deterioration stays by his wife’s side as the disease slowly steals from her every shred of dignity.

And this is why I am pathetic.

imgresIn a world filled with make-believe romances where the boy always gets the girl, I am drawn to these harrowing, real-life love stories.

Fiona with her matted hair and mismatched clothes wanders aimlessly from room to room in the nursing home she is confined to, but it’s Grant’s unwavering love for his wife that stirs every emotion in me.  Just like my grandmother did, Grant desperately tries to hold onto any part of his beloved…a look, a smile, the way the body moves.

Love that spans decades, overcomes hardships and heartaches, is the real deal.

There is no soundtrack to that kind of love.

My mother-in-law refused to see the film.

“When you get to my age, that kind of stuff is lurking around the corner.  I don’t want to see my reality played out for me prematurely.”

I see her point.  Sometimes a little saccharine is good.

And that is why my all-time favourite on-film love story is When Harry Met Sally.

““I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle in your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

– Harry (Billy Crystal) to Sally (Meg Ryan)

The perfect mix of candy-coated sweetness and reality.



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Because Sometimes Mama Needs The Remote(s)!

Recently we were at a dinner party and after a few drinks the hosts asked us to play Top Ten.  The hostess would throw out a topic and we’d have to negotiate who or what was worthy of a top ten spot.  For instance, top ten bands who revolutionized music, top ten indulgent foods, top ten starlets, etc.

So here I sit, on my perfectly worn leather couch, a mini-drumstick wrapper on the floor and the kids fast asleep, watching a movie.  Since my husband is working late, I have free-run of the remotes and I intend to make the most of the situation and choose something that I know would only induce an eyeball roll from him.

Since I live in a house with all males, sometimes I need to indulge the ultra-feminine in me and so I present to you my ultimate Top Ten Girlie Movie List.

10 – Cinderella

Yes, it perpetuates stereotypes.  Yes, I know that most feminists around the world cringe to hear the name.  Yes, I know that I am not going to marry Prince Charming (damn you, Kate Middleton).  But come on!  How good does it feel to see Cinderella fade into happily-ever-after while those ugly stepsisters are left in her dust?  Ooooh, snap!

9 – The Graduate

Like fine wine, I am growing to appreciate Mrs. Robinson the older that I get.  Mostly, because I can only pray to look that good when I am her age.  Not to mention leopard print trench, black stilettos, and martinis, martinis, martinis!

8 – An Affair to Remember

What a classic romantic tale.  Two social climbing moochers meet on a ship while vacationing with their partners.  The clandestine lovers agree to meet once they have ended their relationships (and collected some coin to build a life together) when back on solid ground.  They plan to meet at the top of the Empire State Building but sadly a New York City taxi hits her en route to meet him. Their plans fall by the wayside, until the old granny’s spirit, in the form of a hideous painting, brings them back together.  Okay, so maybe not so classic a tale but it definitely gets points for creativity!

7  – Annie Hall

This is on my list because I am married to my own “Alvy”.

6 – Any movie ever made by Audrey Hepburn

Two For The Road should be mandatory viewing for all couples.

5 –The Way We Were

The chemistry between Redford and Streisand is palpable.  The way she caresses his cheek and brushes the hair from his brow with those red nails.  If you don’t shed a tear watching this movie, you have a heart of stone.

4 – The Sound of Music

This movie is a home remedy for curing excessive crabbiness.  It’s impossible to watch Julie Andrews frolicking down tree-lined Salzburg streets and not feel like singing along.

3 – When Harry Met Sally

The clips where the older couples talk about how they met and married are priceless.  I particularly enjoy the one where they re-met at Jerry Calicki’s funeral.  I also love that Sally never tells Harry that she loves him, even after Harry professes his love for her, Sally says:  “I hate you, Harry.  I really hate you.”

2 – Pretty Woman

Basically, Cinderella for grown-ups, but the fashion montage makes me smile into my bowl of ice cream every time.

1 – Dirty Dancing

It’s my all time favourite movie!  I can recite every single line.  Every. Single. Line.

“Nobody puts Baby in a corner!”

“ We are supposed to do the show in two days.  You won’t show me lifts, I am not sure of turns.  I am doing all of this to save your ass!  What I really want to do is drop you on it!”

“You wouldn’t care if I humped the entire army, as long as they were on the right side of the Ho Chi Minh trail.”

“I carried a watermelon!?”

“But most of all, I am afraid of walking out of this room and never feeling again, the rest of my whole life, the way I do when I am with you.”

Let’s not forget the soundtrack!  It was one of my first cassette tapes and I played it on my walk-man until every lyric and a love for Otis Redding and Carol King was burned onto my brain.

And I won’t even go into all of the hours spent dancing with friends in front of the T.V. with the V.C.R. rewinding and fast forwarding until we felt worthy enough to perform at The Sheldrake.

But the dancing and music aside, is there a hotter sex scene than the one between Baby and Johnny when she comes to his cabin after their dance performance?  Whoa!

Agree with the list?  Any glaring omissions? 

Thank you for the photo credits: