“Making Love” into Movie Scenes. . .

We’ve all been there. . . cuddled up with a bowl of popcorn (maybe with company), your eyes glued to the screen as you recite the words to your favorite love scene. Your heart melts and you’re touched. You’re overwhelmed with silence and a tear streams down your face. But why?

While watching a new favorite movie, “Love and Other Drugs” with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway, I found myself in this same scenario, minus the crying of course. As I became more enraptured in the film, I began to wonder, “How in the world can a simple movie scene be so powerful and moving?” Instantly, I thought about one of my other favorite scenes from the 1996 film “Rome + Juliet” with the younger Leonardo DiCaprio and  Claire Danes. For those who remember, it’s the courting/love scene between Romeo (DiCaprio) and Juliet (Danes) as Desiree sings “Kissing You” in the background at the event where the two first meet.

(Watch until 3:39)

After watching that clip, it hit me: it’s the pairing of music and the intensity of actors’ delivery in these special moments that make them “classic.”

An effective attribute of music is its ability to induce memories from our past experiences, making for a salient rush of nostalgia that transports us to new heights as we watch these moments unfold before us. We relive the excitement, intensity, and passion from these memories through the characters. This sometimes results in you rushing for Kleenex. But whether we want to admit the latter or not, the amazing chemistry between these two important pieces that “make love” possible in our scenes is intriguing.

Before this epiphany, I had already replayed my favorite scene at least three times – partially to re-live the moment over and over again and also to break down the sequence of pieces that made this scene so remarkable. The more I analyzed, the more I saw emphasis placed on the synergy between the music and the lines delivered by the actors. In this particular scene, which I will analyze below, it demonstrates a very good example of how directors and writers “make love” into the scene.

Despite the double entendre, I’m not only referring to sex scenes in our favorite films. After all, it’s not too hard to understand how those can grip us. They jolt our loins with sexual energy, attraction, and tenderness combined with love-making (also termed “baby-making”) music amidst huffing, puffing, and delicious body parts.  But, even in these scenes, the same formula is used: the music slowly plays in the background as the actors begin, as the music climaxes the actors’ heighten showing more vulnerability or emotion, and as the song concludes, the actors resolve their feelings, resulting in some version of a happy ending (even if it’s temporary).

For an example of “making love” in a non-sexually charged scene, read my analysis of the final scene in “Love and Other Drugs” when Jake Gyllenhaal’s character (Jamie) tries to win back Anne Hathaway’s (Maggie’s) heart. Just to bring you up to speed, he has just rushed behind her coach bus, forcing it to pull over so he can declare his feelings to her. I’ve included important notes about either the music or the actors’ performance to provide a multi-layered analysis of the synergy between performance and background music. For those of you who don’t mind the bootleg copy of the final scene, I’ve provided it for your viewing pleasure. Feel free to watch the entire final half as the ending is amazing and will be covered in another post that analyzes love through the eyes of movie scenes.

Jamie: “I’m full of shit, okay. (She looks at him not fully convinced or moved) No, I’m knowingly full of shit [pause] because . . . . I have never cared about anybody or anything in my entire life. And the thing is everyone just kind of accepted that like, “It’s just Jamie.” And then you. . .Jesus [deep sigh as he throws up his hands] . . . you . . you didn’t see me that way. I have never known anyone who actually believed that I was enough until I met you. (background music begins playing fully as the camera pans in on Jamie’s face, showing his eyes getting red as if he’s about to cry) and then you made me believe it too. (Tears gather in Maggie’s eyes). So, unfortunately, I need you and you need me. . . .

Maggie: No I don’t.

Jamie: Yes you do.

Maggie: No I don’t.

Jamie: Yes you do.

Maggie: Stop it, stop saying that.

Jamie: You need someone to take care of you.

Maggie: No I don’t

Jamie: Everybody does.

Maggie: I’m going to need you more than you need me.

Jamie: That’s okay.

Maggie: No it’s not (she begins crying while talking). It isn’t fair [pause] I have places [I want] to go . . .

Jamie: You’ll go there. I just may have to carry you. (The singer’s voice begins to inflect as the camera panes in on Jamie and Maggie’s face separately, increasing the intensity of the pause)

Maggie: I can’t ask you to do that.

Jamie: You didn’t.  (There is a musical crescendo (climax) as Maggie stares at Jamie, battling her conscience. Jamie walks closer to Maggie)

Jamie: Hey, let’s just say in some alternate universe there’s a couple that’s just like us only she’s healthy and he’s perfect. And their world is about how much money they’re going to spend on a vacation, who’s in a bad mood that day, or whether they feel guilty about having a cleaning lady (they both begin to smile and softly laugh). . . I don’t want to be those people. I want us . . . you . . .this. (The singer makes a level change with her voice which solidifies the emotional resolution of the scene. Maggie walks closer to Jamie and they hug as she cries on his chest.)

So, there you have it. A lesson in “Making Love” into movie scenes. I hope in some way you were touched by one of my favorite scenes. If you think there are some other great things that particularly resonated with you, share them in the comments section.  For those of you that love this song with Vonda Shepard as much as I do, I’ve included a nice link to it as well. Feel free to play it as you reread the scene without the actors’ input.

Cheers to love, popcorn, and never being able to have enough of it!

“If its worth your eyes, don’t forget to cc:Keith”