Love is a strange religion. While the west has given up on God, belief in love is thriving. The divorce rate is thriving too, but that doesn’t seem to worry the faithful. It helps that love’s most devout believers are mainly young, and, like all pious people, convinced they know better than the rest of us. Love looks more robust, too, when its disciples are at their physical peak. Scepticism about love is a sure sign of aging. We all age, so we all succumb. But that doesn’t mean that love doesn’t exist, or that we’re wrong to fall in love: we’re only wrong to worship love, as if it was the answer to everything. Blue Valentine is a beleaguered love story, but it only says: love’s fallible. The message might be frank, but it’s not heresy.
I wonder what confession would have been like with Martin Scorsese. (Legend has it he almost became a priest.) I picture myself (a good Catholic boy) confessing to some venial sin, and Father Scorsese…socking me in the jaw. He’d get my attention, no two ways about it. His sermons, doubtless, would be filled with anguished, sweaty, febrile saints. There’d be a lot of talk of blood, tough words on redemption. All the altar boys would look like Ray Liotta. By God, I’d be transfixed. As a director, Scorsese is Catholic the way Papal shoes are Catholic (N.B. the Pope’s shoes look like matador slippers). Marty’s new movie is for people who can pardon indulgence.
What goes through a movie star’s head when they’re acting in a really generic movie? Are they hoping: maybe it’s not as bad as I think? Or do they know, even as they schlep through yet another tired and derivative scene, that the scene is tired, and derivative, and that some things you just do for money… for a new boat. Deception (the new erotic thriller starring Ewan McGregor and Hugh Jackman) is so formulaic it needn’t even have been made. The producers could have written on the poster: “just think of [blank] and save yourself some money!” and even if nothing came to mind, you would be more thrilled than if you’d sat through this machine-tooled piffle.