When you have everything, do you reach out for a dream and hang yourself?
From the moment the glossy depiction of a couple in love lingering in bed embraced, lit with love from within and from without. I sat back to embrace this quiet sonata of a film.
This was everything I wanted in life. Love, a beautiful wife, serene, styling sheets and always lit looking too damn handsome. This was going to be adult material about real lives and how people create beauty and forge their way through difficult times, but do it together.
Then Dennis Quaid’s voice over brayed across my walls and I realized things were not going to be ok. I was confused, why was Quaid doing this? Involving himself, was he going to rat out the golden boy Copper. Was he going to break up Zoe’s and Coopers perfect moments, abbreviate it because he was just so enraged about a past joke, that he’s still making a sour face.
My mind churned to figure this out, where does Quaid fit into all this. It tainted every scene for me with his accusing eyes.
I pushed the raspy voice to the back of my mind and let Cooper and Zoe’s utopia, fresh and true love affair, fill me with hope and my eyes with glamour, smiles and the flowering question, who in the world was the DP on this movie.
The depiction of love and adoration, the kisses, the connection, with arms and hands and eyes, was wonderfully played. This was a film for people that have experienced some life and actors that knew how to express and act in motion and tenderness. Of course you can feel the story book pages start to yellow, Quaid wasn’t a good sign of hope either.
Yet with no money and little hope of success, with Cooper’s fathers check book yelping in pain. Cooper is forced to stare down the bloody red badge of mailroom supervisor, after many rejected literary submissions. The man is misery, he’s eating McNuggets while all around him, steak is being served and his mouth is bitter. His father reminds him, that in life sometimes a man has to understand his limitations.
Real words for situations normal people have to live in, not superhero’s or knights or hobbits. I can’t help but swallow all my own limits, and feel remorse and pain.
Still Quaid’s Gollum voice creaks in and feeds us a few on the nose lines at painfully obvious moments, just to break the thin veil of connection with the film.
Then at the height of nothing, the storybook couple get married and honeymoon in Paris. I have been trying to back to Paris for a few years now and I understand one thing about a trip to Paris, you BETTER have some money!
So in Paris without an Euro to their names, they wander about in love, holding hands cruising through Parisian shops, looking for gifts or signs of beauty from the past that mimics their own charmed lives.
What they find is a blessing for them both, magically both of their lives are about to change and everything that was perfect will become even grander, all their money problems are over, and nothing will be the same. As long as they keep acting like adults. Grown up people living in the real world.
They find a worn brief case in a old Paris store. And Zoe boldly tells Cooper “I’m going to get this for you!” This is no debate for this penniless couple, shacked up in a 1 star hotel in Paris near Pigalle street. Zoe knows that he needs this, that they need this briefcase and she going to get it, even if it’s just to keep their dreams alive.
Later back in the States, Cooper discovers a hidden manuscript, not so well hidden but off to the side, that no one noticed through out the entire trip. Which is fine, I don’t go through other peoples luggage that I buy from a second or triple hand store. Not likely. I rifle through the entire thing looking for an antique fountain pen or a mysterious note, a postcard, or a few francs. Since the breif case must have cost at least 100 Euros.
Crouched inside this aged crease of leather is the manuscript of such pure genius, each typewritten font cries on the screen and Cooper is appalled at his own ineptitude, forced to see his own lacking of value as a writer.
Here in his hands hidden in a leather womb for decades as though valueless, is everything he wants to be as a man as an intellect as a power. Yet more importantly it’s everything that his beautiful wife wants him to be also. Everything that she tries to caress out of him, yet it’s like milking a stone for a Gin and Tonic.
Cooper knows it, they both admit it, they both want it and they both lie to each other. This is what adults do! It’s a hard world and it’s Cooper’s job cleave his way through the world. It’s his masculine directive and Zoe’s does her part to soothe his brow and body to support him.
Urged on by Zoe, Cooper submits the manuscript to his boss. The results are instant and accolades start to rain, acceptance, money and fame. Their embrace has born the fruit they have both always fascinated on.
Jeremy Irons leans into the picture and brings the truth with him like a pitch fork. It’s his story, it’s his life and it’s his damn book, and it’s Cooper’s turn to use that life because Irons has lived his out. What I felt move me, what I understood most, from the entire film was the ending of a man’s life and how a man feels about that, and his regrets and how he must resign himself to them and live with them. Like carrying a heavy cart, it weights you down, slows you down, breaks you down.
It’s Cooper’s tears that start to repulse me more than Quaid’s interjecting quips that draw blood. Cooper has everything and never earned it, will it last? Or will one truth break him proving why he was never really able to write a great book in the first place.
There was no reason for Cooper to tell his wife. Irons wasn’t going to do anything, he wanted to talk, there was no life in him to fight for the story he had tried to forget for decades. Of course he wanted Cooper to know that the real author was alive and that he was a thief. Of course Irons wanted his day, his moment and on a park bench he drew it out sweetly. Till the verbal knife came out and Cooper was laid open by Irons and their quaint conversation ended with Coopers false pride and deepest desires laid open for the birds to peck at.
Still, it’s distracting to move from each story within the one. There are too many voices trying to tell one story. Was Cooper to become Quaid after Zoe left him and their perfect life, because Cooper couldn’t handle the reality that hard choices lay like rubble on the fast lane to wealth and the golden life.
He writes other books that sell, he works hard at it. Zoe should have wanted to stand by him and realize it’s what they both wanted and needed. Ethics taste fine on a full belly, but when you’re hungry your choices change with your acceptance levels.
It’s the quiet scary secrets that everyone mills on but doesn’t talk about, the lost trusts, the broken idealism in the face of reality. The word is a hard place, animals eat each other, we have a society of class and hierarchy.
And if you want your portion then some child like ideals may have to be realigned. Does that mean you have to become bitter like Quaid, barely able to swallow. No, it means being a man and seeing the passage of time and value what is still alive and never throwing away what you need.
Especially when the man who gives it to you say it’s ok.
I think I got lost watching this movie. I got lost in watching Irons being a broken man resigned to the truth and his choices and he dies 2 days later.