I had another Friday night all to my lonesome last night. Tim was on a trip at Central, so I took him some delicious Jimmy Johns, and then retreated homeward to see what Netflix could do about my insatiable need for a good romantic movie. I scrolled through the list of movies in the Romance genre and start to feel more and more hopeless. I didn’t want to watch anything with Julie Roberts or anything with a rating of less than 2 stars. I think I set my standards way too high. Why is it so hard to make a good romantic movie?
I finally settled on I Capture the Castle. I liked the looks of the English setting (in a dilapidated castle surrounded by untamed grassy hillocks), the English people (beautiful pale skin and big luminous eyes), and the premise – a writer (the awesome Bill Nighy) using the proceeds from his great literary work, Jacob Wrestled, to take out a 40 year lease on castle. He moves his wife, two daughters, and son into this castle, attacks his wife with a butter knife and quits writing for 12 years. The story picks up again when 2 Americans, who have inherited the castle and the surrounding land, come into the picture. The 2 Americans, conveniently enough, are young, handsome, and rich. The oldest daughter, Rose, immediately sets her sights on the elder brother, Simon, and his well-endowed bank account. As she is maybe one of the prettiest people I have ever seen, he of course falls in love with her almost immediately, and they become engaged. The most interesting person in the story is Cassandra, the 17-year-old who is narrating the story by way of writing in her journal. She is wise beyond her years, beautiful in a more interesting way than Rose, and is also in love with Simon, after he gives her her first kiss. The person who really should have given her her first kiss, in my opinion, is not her soon-to-be brother-in-law, but Steven, the Greek-god/house boy who has lived with the family for a decade. He is in love with Cassandra, but she sees him only as a friend.
The story comes to a head when Cassandra tells Steven that she doesn’t love him, but loves Simon instead. Cassandra also tells him that Rose doesn’t love Simon, but is marrying him for the money (money that would save her destitute family). Several weeks prior, Steven had witnessed Neil (Simon’s brother) and Rose kissing, and he suspicions that Rose and Neil really love each other. He goes to Neil, explains that Rose doesn’t love Simon, and that Cassandra loves Simon.
Of course, Neil goes to Rose, who truly does love him. They run away together and live happily ever after. Simon is still in love with Rose, however, despite how poorly she treated him (the power of a pretty face, I guess?), and Cassandra is still in love with Simon. And Steven is still in love with Cassandra. I’m happy that at least one set of people in the story have a happy ending, I guess.
I wish situations like this would only occur in movies (or in the books on which the movies are based), but I know that’s not the case. No matter how little sense our emotions make in a sane reality, we are often powerless to change them. I remember that when I fell in love with Tim, an older woman in my congregation invited me over the have French-pressed coffee. I knew from the outset that it wasn’t just about drinking fancy coffee – we were going to have “a talk.” This was a woman I greatly respected and whose opinion I treasured. She was worried about the direction I was taking – falling in love at 19 with a boy who did not fit in the mold of a typical Witness. I mean, he dyed his hair blond at one point! And he had sideburns! I remember telling her that the conversation was too late. There was absolutely nothing I could do at that point to alter my feelings for Tim. It would have been physically and emotionally completely impossible for me.
No matter how little sense people make when falling in love, I can understand it and appreciate that pain and struggle. Love doesn’t make sense, and it’s messy and complicated. It’s also an intricate web of physical, emotional, and mental connections that cannot be teased apart. I’ve never believed in evolution, and the fact that human beings love is more evidence of some outside force influencing humanity. Why would we evolve with the capacity for love? It’s not for the propagation of the species – people can procreate without love, and it would probably be more beneficial for the human race if love was removed from that equation. It would be much better for the species if people bred for the improvement of the species than for love. Love gets in the way of survival of the fittest. Love just doesn’t make sense in the context of evolution. It only makes sense, to me at least, in the context of a God who enabled humans to experience something magical and painful, something that can help us transcend the commonness of daily life. Love helps make life meaningful.