Basement Films: Love is for the weak minded

Sean Strain

I personally am not a fan of romantic movies or any movie that deals with the subject of love. I suppose I dislike how love in movies is portrayed as highly idealized until the point of artificiality. All movies or any work of fiction obviously deviates from reality greatly, but it doesn’t matter to me if it’s a love story in the wild west, a futuristic planet, or contemporary New York; romance in movies still seems inherently wrong to me.

I suppose the reason it seems wrong is because most love stories stop at the moment the two love birds get together. We see nothing of their marriage or any life they have together afterwards, but we are simply given a final, perfect image of the two before the credits roll. I am not very old to know a lot about love, but I feel there is more to a relationship than that. I feel in a relationship there a lot of moments where you truly despise the other person and they do something that makes you so angry you simply want to leave. Yet, something makes you stay.

This idea about a not so idealized relationship is one portrayed in The Last Station, a wonderful film starring Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren. The film chronicles the last year of Russian writer’s, Leo Tolstoy, life and the tumultuous relationship with his wife, Sophia (Helen Mirren). Leo Tolstoy is a man who does not believe in private property and other radical ideas, yet his wife is an aristocrat who fears he will give away their fortune for humanity.

Despite all the arguments and words they say to each other, it is shown that the two do care for each other. In one scene, Sophia and Tolstoy  finish having an argument over property and money when Tolstoy’s disciple begins to play a speech by Tolstoy on a record player. This upsets both Tolstoy and Sophia, causing the latter to leave the dinner table, until Sophia changes the record to a Russian song and the two begin to dance together. Even on Tolstoy’s death bed, he calls out for Sophia in spite of everything that has transpired between them.

I feel this aligns more with my perception of love. One where not every minute is a glorious paradise, where arguments end with some compromise, and there is still some glimmer of light even in the worst moments.