I have a secret: when the first Twilight movie came out in 2008, I was way into it. More like obsessed. After taking a glimpse at the trailer, I quickly read the novel before the movie was released to theaters. I ate up chapter after chapter, reveling in the romance and mysteriousness of Edward Cullen. I wanted a relationship just like his and Bella’s to call my own – passionate but forbidden. I was like, 15, okay?! Gosh.
All jokes aside, there is a reason why people everywhere fell all over Twilight – if it was nothing more than a laughing stock, well, it wouldn’t have become a best-seller and successful movie series. Was it the fantasy romance? The fantasy guy? The thrill of a forbidden love? Probably a combination of all three, and add in some skilled plot and writing techniques a la Stephanie Meyer, and the novel is what dreams are made of for teenage girls and bashful adults all over the world.
Which brings me to today, 2016.
I recently watched The Age of Adaline with a group of friends. This 2015 film follows a young woman (played by Blake Lively) after she stops aging, on the inside and outside, due to a terrible car accident.
I’m not interested in giving away too many spoilers, but I will say a relationship between Adaline and a male suitor makes up the plot of this movie.
And one thing I will say is: What a terrible example of a relationship! This story should absolutely not be pushed on impressionable kiddos as a healthy, worthwhile romance.
Let me give some examples of why (okay, this might be slightly spoiler-y):
- Forcing a girl into going out with you is not a-okay! Even if you do it in a pseudo-charming and smooth way. If a girl tells you she is not interested in seeing you again, making cute little bargains (or threats?) to get her to see you again is scary.
- Taking a girl to excluded, dark areas for a first date is a usually guarantee way to make her heart pound faster, and NOT for the good reason. You know of a really secretive, hidden area of your local bustling downtown? That’s cool! Save it for when she’s 99% sure you’re not a serial killer.
- When a girl breaks things off with you, showing up around her house (especially when she never gave you the address) is good reason for you to walk away in handcuffs. What. Just, don’t. No.
- Sorry, Romeo, this girl isn’t the love of your life after knowing her for about six days. And if you try to convince yourself and everyone around you that she is, you might have some hidden but lingering attachment issues below the surface.
- Lastly, changing a huge, complicated part of your life for someone you’ve known for about six days is not healthy.
Don’t get me wrong – I did enjoy the movie overall. But I couldn’t see past the over-the-top cheesy romance, which would be totally unhealthy in the real world.
But this kind of film is something I would have been really into as a teenager, wishing for a similar relationship of my own. But, now I am older, and aware of how relationships really work and the painfully high statistics of violence against women (which stalking and aggression are known to be signs of the beginning of verbal abuse, physical abuse, etc).
So, here is my question: are romance films ruined for you once you become older and more mature, more aware? Where are the realistic movies that portray relationships in a healthy, honest way? (Don’t worry, 500 Days of Summer, I know you exist and have not forgotten you. Don’t ever change.)
But there should be more.
Where are the films about slowly, steadily moving into a relationship because you need to find balance between that and work? Or the film about the girl who ends up alone because, as kind-hearted as that guy was, she wasn’t in a place to commit?
Real life can, at times, be hard and boring. But I would love to see more healthy, real life relationships portrayed on the big screen.