Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

Reprise: Mr. & Mrs.

Mr_and_Mrs_Smith_movie_poster

Last week Awhile back, I teed up Doug Liman‘s Mr. & Mrs. Smith for another viewing (this time, on Blu-ray Disc). It’s not a perfect movie, but then again, neither are we. Timing is everything, it is said. I don’t love this film because of the pyrotechnics, or the over-the-top super-assassin skills on display from the pair of hyper-attractive leads, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Okay, now and then I do get a kick out of the variety of combat hardware on hand and that its being put to gorgeous use by a comely, long-haired brunette…

That’s not really the reason. I love it because of this:

John: “Careful, Jane. I can push the button any time I like.”
Jane: “Baby, you couldn’t find the button with both hands and a map.”

It’s the facets of wedlock, the rubber meets the road variety, and all the little things about marriage, this story absolutely nails on the big screen. The milieu of marriage, as it’s been described by others. I bet you, whether the person is married or divorced… happy or miserable, a hitched person will spot that same detail with regard to this movie. I doubt the single person in the room will fully comprehend what they are seeing.

mr-and-mrs-smith

Oh, they’ll get some of it. But, not the portion that is felt by those who have really lived in a state of matrimony. Those of us who are, or have been, married know living that part leaves an actual impression. As in, “That’s going to leave a mark.” For the non-married — living together doesn’t count — think of it as false labor vs. real c-o-n-t-r-a-c-t-i-o-n-s. It’s just not at their level of understanding.

If they pull the pin, the grenade analogy being so fitting, and come back to this film in, say, five or six years… I think they’ll finally get what they’re seeing.

Jane: “Wait, why do I get the girl gun?”
John: “Are you kidding me?”

Prizzi's honor 1985 John Huston Kathleen Turner Jack NicholsonAt first, when I heard they were filming this movie, I rolled my eyes and thought, “They’re remaking Prizzi’s Honor.” Yes, it’s about two killers who fall for each other, unbeknownst to them. But, it is nothing like that black comedy of the 80s. When the truth comes out, as it must, even though they are together as lovers, Charley and Irene actually do try to rub the other out (and one succeeds).

This being the other angle that makes me love this 2005 film the more. Here, it’s clear that John and Jane are not the lovers from that earlier film, or that other time. They are married. Whether or not they have clandestine covers to hide behind, they still have a history. A marital one [ever notice that marital and martial are an anagram of the other?]. Review the scene after their climatic fight with each other, when they compare the scars they’ve acquired over the years in their trade.

It’s an analogy of what they’ve come through… together. And it’s that, and the love they have for each other, that makes it impossible for either one to kill the other. They will fight for, and most certainly with, the other to keep it/them going. And that is what I continue to admire. Marriage doesn’t work out for everyone. But, when it does…

John: [at the marriage counselor's] “OK, I’ll go first. Um… Let me say, uh, we don’t really need to be here. See, we’ve been married for five years.”
Jane: “Six.”
John: [chastened] “Five… six years.”

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Watch the two bookend sequences with the couple in sessions with the marriage counselor, again. Examine the other’s by-play and reactions during them. As tough and skilled as each of these assassins are, they are vulnerable to the other by way of their union. It’s subtly on display. They are connected by a real marriage. Peeves and looks, aside.

And as surely as one could see Bogart actually falling in love with Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not, you can spot the same here with Pitt and Jolie.

Man, do they spark when together. I don’t follow or care about what the tabloids say regarding the pair. I guess I identify with the two people on film falling in love — and their characters fighting to stay there. But, more than that, the individuals up on the big screen acted like a couple. And a wife and husband that love and care for each other, no matter their differences, disagreements, or piques, can still be one formidable twosome — as these two are on celluloid.

John: “That left of yours is a thing of beauty.”
Jane: “Mmm. You take it well.”

I definitely am not Brad Pitt, but I’ll put my salt & pepper haired beauty up against Angie anytime, without a qualm. Thank you very much. I’ll give the young folk their due for their current vampire craze in books, TV, and movies as a symbol of romantic love for their generation. Fair enough. They are more than welcome to it. I’m sure my approval or opinion is nothing they seek, anyway. That’s, as Bruce Hornsby coined it, the way it is.

However, I’ll take this strangely romantic action film over their stuff any day of the week. With its high-caliber exploits, explosions, battle scars, and all its emotions on its sleeve, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is, for me, a sweet and bruising metaphor for marriage, partnership, and enduring love. Did I mention that timing thing? This week marks is my 21st 25th wedding anniversary. And yes, I’m guilty of putting things in the context of the popular arts (movies and books, especially).

Note: since today is our wedding anniversary, I decided to reprint (and update) the review I wrote awhile back. If I don’t do it, who will? ;-)

No doubt, I can be overly analytical and remote, at times. But at the core of my Mexican soul, there beats the heart of a romantic. That hot-blooded latin-thing my spouse reminds me of, from time-to-time. This little film review an homage to the rigors of marriage, in general — and the magnificence of my partner-in-life, specifically. And if it isn’t obvious by now to you, I deeply love the woman I married. More now than when we first walked down the aisle two and half decades ago.

Happy Anniversary, my dear.

John: “You looked like Christmas morning.”

Mr-Mrs-Smith

33 Responses to “Reprise: Mr. & Mrs.”

  1. Herb

    have a quote on me and congrats.

    “My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.” –
    — Winston Churchill

    amen to that!

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    • Ronan

      Love that quote Herb, thank you for that. What a great post Le0pard! Thank you for helping me to see past all the Hollywood, to peel back the innane and to an glimmer of truth of this surprising tribute to the mysterious beauty of the sanctity of marriage. I mention sanctity because my wife would have to be a saint to put up with me, and if she isn’t now, she will be :-)

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      • le0pard13

        Isn’t that a great quote, Ronan? Your addition (“I mention sanctity because my wife would have to be a saint to put up with me, and if she isn’t now, she will be”) is right up there, too. Let me send a welcome and thank you your way for this comment, my friend.

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  2. Kaye Barley

    Oh, jeez – I love this.
    My happiest Happy Anniversary wishes to you both – with wishes for many, many more.

    I often say there’s just nothing any lovelier – or more fun – than a good marriage. And it’s something I wish for everyone I care about. You, my friend, have it nailed. You’ve nourished it and treasured it and you both are now reaping what you’ve sown. Enjoy.

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  3. Poncho

    Happy anniverary, cousin, to both of you.

    I liked the post when you posted it and I know that I won’t get the whole allegory of the film ’til I am married (no candidates yet…).

    Anyway, I’d like to add a quote from the film that summarizes my parents’ marriage:

    Jane: If you don’t like them [the curtains] we can take them back.
    John: All right, I don’t like them.

    Jane: You’ll get used to them.

    OK… congrats again!

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  4. sgwordy

    Congratulations! And I thank you for celebrating your happy marriage; too few examples of this are released into the wild. I’m not sure why we seem more keen on focusing on failures in media and literature when success is just as important and, arguably, more useful for communities. A strong partnership is a lovely thing.

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  5. The Sci-Fi Fanatic

    Still figuring out how to maneuver here. Minor adjustments but I’m slow.

    Happy Anniversary my friend. 22. Man, no easy feat today. I’m inspired. All the best.

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  6. rtm

    Awesome post, Michael, thanks for sharing and happy belated Anniversary! Y’know it’s funny, I always thought of Mr & Mrs Smith as a fun action romp, but now that I think about it there are some profound stuff in there about marriage, so kudos for pointing ‘em out.

    I think men who can express their emotions and not ashamed of them are VERY sexy :D I totally agree w/ Rachel that the media always choose to highlight the negative/failures of marital union, though I’m sure there are as many marriages that do work. Anyway, my hubby and I both came from a broken home, but we CHOOSE to make our marriage work.

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  7. Paula

    I’m late to this party, so I will start out by saying Happy 23rd :)

    I love my husband and I love being married, and I agree with everything you’ve said. I think I’ll just start sending people this post if they say they don’t like the movie.

    Three little thoughts: the dialogue reminded me of screwball comedies like HIS GIRL FRIDAY and THE AWFUL TRUTH; check out The Vampire Diaries, as it is well-written and some of it is in the same vein (haha); and when the Jolie-Pitt kids grow up, they’ll have a heck of a time capsule of their parents :)

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    • le0pard13

      You’re so very kind and generous, Paula. Many thanks for that. Good point about the film’s dialogue and its connection to the screwball comedy. Y’know, you are another who has said similar about ‘The Vampire Diaries’. I really should check that series out.

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  8. keith7198

    Brilliant post! A very happy anniversary to you both! 25 years! I love hearing that. My wife and I will hit 20 years this November. A strong committed marriage is a wonderful thing isn’t it? :)

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    • le0pard13

      Yes, it is! Great to hear from another two-decade vet, Keith. ;-)

      Thank you very much for the kind words and wishes, my friend. :-)

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  9. 70srichard

    Congratulations, both on the long term success of your relationship and the review which fits pretty well in matching your feelings about that relationship. [And just a suggestion, I'd get her some flowers too because re-gifting a post is great for us, but it may not be the romantic gesture that your better half would most appreciate.] If I read this right, it has been 28 years. “Murphy’s Romance ” was in theaters the week you got married. When you saw it originally it was about old people falling in love, revisit with her now and it will seem like it is about you. My best to you and your bride.

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    • le0pard13

      Thank you very much for the kind wishes and words, Richard. It’s 25 for us, but I do love MURPHY’S ROMANCE. Long time fan of James Garner’s work. Believe it or not, this year for this celebration, my wife convinced me to stop giving her roses on our anniversary. She wanted something that wouldn’t die in a week or two. An arrangement of orchids and bamboo made her day. :-)

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