A mamil on stage
Melodrama has a bad rap in these cynical days. Who has time for drummed up feelings and overblown drama when the real world provides more than enough histrionics and heartbreak?
Well, if the latest box office figures are anything to go by, it looks like young movie audiences do.
The soggy tissue teen brigade made its voice heard last weekend, when supernatural fantasy romance If I Stay opened in the US to the tune of $US16.8 million. Cha-ching. If I Stay is a sweet little emotion batterer about Mia (Chloe Grace Moretz), a young woman whose promising life is destroyed by a car accident.
While in a coma, she relives the best and worst moments of that life as she tries to decide if it’s worth sticking around.
In fact, it’s in these moments of high emotion and existentialcrisis-lite that the real enjoyment of melodrama comes.
Like the cinematic equivalent of your first pet death, fictions like If I Stay and the even more successful weepy, The Fault In Our Stars, which came out last month, are a safe place for young people to test the limits of newly fledged, often scary, emotions.
If I Stay is particularly good in this regard, running the gamut of loss, love and growing up in little over an hour and a half.
It’s also good at reminding young viewers they are part of the bigger picture of family relationships and love – something teens often lose in the mad, hormonefuelled scrabble to figure out who the hell they are.
Scenes between Mia and her doughty rural ‘‘Gramps’’ (Stacy Keach) are some of the most moving in the film. And the mirroring of her parents’ friendships in her own network of buddies is a nice way of showing that growing up doesn’t mean growing out of relationships.
Of course it’s all idealised to the point of saccharin overkill. Mia’s grown up Gen-X parents are too good (and cool) to be believed, her boyfriend is an actual rock star, and her best friend is more devoted than the average cocker spaniel – everyone needs a little escapism after all.
But the fact remains that young people deserve good quality, thoughtful, compelling and sensitive films about having feelings and dealing with it. They deserve The Catcher in the Rye, The Perks of Being A Wallflower (which they got in 2012 and it was amazing) and Looking For Alaska in film form, just as much as they deserve the flash-bang-wallop release of action and adventure.
If I Stay isn’t quite in that ilk, but it’s close enough, and certainly too warm-hearted to knock for being smushy, overly sentimental or ‘‘lame’’.
Besides, not even I’m cynical enough to remain unmoved by a teary eyed Stacy Keach.
So here’s hoping Hollywood listens and puts a little more elbow grease into telling teen stories, melodramatic or otherwise. One of the country’s most beloved actors has a one man show hitting Wellington this month and KapiMana News has a double pass to give away.
MAMIL - or Middle Aged Man In Lycra – stars Mark Hadlow (a star of The Hobbit trilogy) and plays from September 5 to 20 at Prefab Hall in Jessie St, Wellington.
Bryan Cook is a property developer who has accumulated a small fortune building leaking homes. He’s a stressed out, selfmedicating, self-loathing plonker, killing himself to increase his bank balance while decreasing his golf score.
When his business and life fall apart, he joins a men’s cycling group to relieve stress and get healthy. Ultimately faced with his own mortality, he makes a few startling discoveries in various cracks and crevices.
Tickets are $45 and are available through ticketmaster.co.nz but Kapi-Mana News has a double pass to give away for the September 9 show. It starts at 7.30pm.
To enter, email editor@kmana news.co.nz with ‘‘Hadlow’’ in the subject line before noon this Friday – be sure to include a daytime phone number.