May 24, 2013

"I'm only going to mention that great moment in film when Emma Thompson learns that Hugh Grant is not married."

That's the highest-rated comment in an article in The Guardian titled "Behind the Candelabra proves it: our greatest romances are gay/As Soderbergh's Liberace biopic hits our screens, why is it that homosexual love stories now work so much better than hetero?"

Reading that comment, I got chills, bodily chills, that preceded my conscious recollection that the reference is to the movie "Sense and Sensibility," which recollection caused me to get chills again, and then I recalled how I felt about that scene at the time, and then — I am not kidding — I got bodily chills again. I'm stunned to realize that every time I simply remember Emma Thompson at that moment, I have a physical response.

Here's the moment.

68 comments:

Bob Ellison said...

Thank you for providing a superior exemplar of what makes a chick flick a chick flick. Until now, I have pointed to Steel Magnolias. I shall henceforth use this scene. Wow. And to think that I avoided Jane Austen for so long, and continue to do so.

edutcher said...

Remember, these are the same Brits who watched one of their own soldiers get hacked to pieces on the street and did nothing until a woman came forward.

Don't read a ton into it.

Bob Ellison said...

And by the way, shouldn't we hold Liberace up as a proud example of the Lying Litigant? It's not a good story; it's a terrible one.

sghart3578 said...

Real men love Jane Austen

Salamandyr said...

Wait, didn't Liberace abuse his young lover and force him to get plastic surgery in order to look more like him?

That's a great love story?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Behind the Candelabra proves it: our greatest romances are gay

For certain values of the word our.

virgil xenophon said...

YOU, above ALL people, Ann, should recognize that now at this cultural time in our great day and age, "Gay" is the new normal..

Whaat? You didn't realize that?

All "progressives" can now breath a sigh of relief...nirvana has been reached..

Astro said...

For me that 'chill' happens at the end of 'Gunga Din' when Din (Sam Jaffe) climbs the tower and trumpets the warning to the soldiers marching into an ambush, and continues to trumpet the warning while being shot by the Thuggees.

virgil xenophon said...

And speaking of LUV stories, new research shows that only 1-6% of gays (who are only 1,7% of the pop on avg) actually marry and that their divorce rates are twice that of hetero couples--especially among lesbians which are even higher. So much for the "normality" of not only "gay marriage" but the gay community as a whole..

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I usually cannot not cry when someone else is, but that scene does not do much for me.

I start tearing up at "In vain I have struggled; it will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." but the waterworks don't really start until "Dearest, loveliest Elizabeth" and then I do the laugh/cry thing when she giggles with her sister that she perhaps she first started loving him when she saw his estate.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Behind the Candelabra proves it: our greatest romances are gay/As Soderbergh's Liberace biopic hits our screens, why is it that homosexual love stories now work so much better than hetero?

So the implication is that male/female love stories somehow work less than homo ones? I think the former are on a rather different track these days--filled with acrimony and resentment. This cannot end well in real terms if life imitates art--we'll see.

Pogo said...

"our greatest romances are gay"

And such will be the required subject in high school English courses. Hell, grade school. Count on it.

Man, Dr. Helen thinks men are dropping out now. Just wait. Soon enough, certain movies will draw only women. Not mostly, only.

El Pollo Raylan said...

To be honest, when it comes to maudlin English chick flicks like "Sense and Sensibility" or a "Room With A View," it's healthy to maintain a place for the pinprick parodies such as "Cold Comfort Farm."

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Also, this scene gives me goosebumps every time I see it. The protectiveness of his silent gesture to nudge her into the corner of the elevator followed by the beautiful and tender kiss, and then the unspeakable violence that follows.

Freeman Hunt said...

"Reading that comment, I got chills, bodily chills, that preceded my conscious recollection that the reference is to the movie "Sense and Sensibility," which recollection caused me to get chills again, and then I recalled how I felt about that scene at the time, and then — I am not kidding — I got bodily chills again."

Ha ha! Same here on reading this post's title!

pm317 said...

Fine, if we are talking about the (boring) Jane Austen, I will raise you one of Bronte sisters', in particular, Jane Eyre. Any number of British versions of that movie gives you the chills through out. With Timothy Dalton is one I seem to remember. But the book gave me bigger chills.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Pogo wrote: And such will be the required subject in high school English courses. Hell, grade school. Count on it.

In such a dystopiab future, HIV will be treated with the same regard as pregnancy: it leads to a life long commitment; it is life changing; it can be passed on like genes; it is sowed like seed; etc.

Æthelflæd said...

Jane is Austen is anything but maudlin. Sense and Sensibility, in particular, is very much against being maudlin.

BAS said...

I don't know, I find it a creepy story. A rich man finds a teen foster kid and brings him or her home to have as a pet. Does it matter that it's a gay story line? Is it okay if it's gay because it would not be okay if it was heterosexual. They would have had to rewrite the story that the kid is atleast 18 years old.

ricpic said...

Of course Emma Thompson gives you chills, she's an Ice Person!

virgil xenophon said...

And we see this attempt to isolate heterosexuals as somehow if, well, not "not normal" but certainly "not mainstream" by trying to label them as "breeders"--as something unique and apart from "civil society." And not very subtle attempts either..

RonF said...

"why is it that homosexual love stories now work so much better than hetero?"

Simple - they don't. But saying things like this promote the narrative, so expect to see more of it.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Æthelflæd said...
Jane is Austen is anything but maudlin. Sense and Sensibility, in particular, is very much against being maudlin

I'm curious as to whether the exact same passage in the book affects people the same way as the scene in the film.

Æthelflæd said...

Well, I found the book to be very moving. I can't speak for others.

sydney said...

Wait, didn't Liberace abuse his young lover and force him to get plastic surgery in order to look more like him?

That's a great love story?


I watched the trailer for the movie embedded in the Guardian article and it made me laugh out loud. Didn't see anything romantic about it at all. No love expressed in the scenes at all. No tenderness. Just camp and selfish use of another person.

Dante said...

Maybe the love is real, but how does one get over the disgust factor? Two guys kissing each other passionately? Yuck. And then there are the love passionate in the bed love scenes. I don't see how these could be portrayed.

jr565 said...

Our greatest romances are gay? The person who wrote that is either gay, or a eunuch. Or asexual and following the politically correct path of extolling all things gay as the best.Ludicrous argument.


By the way, does the Liberace movie have the scene where they engage in anal sex. Have you ever watched gay porn? Not romantic.

Renee said...

I rather see the movie Weekend, about a gay relationship. Both men of the same age and working poor. One of the main characters grew up in foster care and much is discussed about his loss of parent.

Renee said...

Dante,

When I watched the trailer for Weekend, the kissing scenes did bother me a little, but the couple having a conversation in their underwear drinking coffee didn't.

jacksonjay said...


New Boy Scout merit badge: Gay Romance

Freeman Hunt said...

The article mentions "The Notebook" as a film many would cite as the last great heterosexual romance film. Yuck!

Another film in this genre that other people rave about that I hate is "Love Actually."

The first film that came to my mind as an example of a good, semi-recent film was "Notting Hill." That was a while ago, but then I have hardly seen any modern romance films. They haven't been writing them as well as they did decades ago. Of course, that's true for almost every genre.

sydney said...

The book version of the Austen scene.

jr565 said...

I'm more partial to Before Sunrise with Eathan Hawke and Julie Delpy (Yum!) when they are lookig at each other when the other person isn't looking and then look away when the other person looks. THen after they have their one night stand and the train rolls away the camera goes back on all the places where they were and shows them absent the loving couple.

That wasn't a gay movie. Not a gay person in it. Maybe the guy who comes up to them and says he'll write a poem on the spot with words they give him. Not saying he is gay, just if we had to find a gay character in the movie he MIGHT be. Even though the movie makes no outward pretence that he is gay.

I think there are some movies that deal with male friendships that are equated with gayness (ie a bromance). And here it touches on the fact that sometimes your friendships are extremely close and poignant, and brotherly camraderie is somtimes more intimiate and close than your actual love. BUT ITS NOT GAY. Unless there is butt sex involved.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Æthelflæd said...
Well, I found the book to be very moving. I can't speak for others.

Yes, but what about the exact passage...the scene under discussion here...the one that sends chills down people's leg...are they comparable? I'm just trying to sort out the work of fiction from any embellishment by the film.

Nomennovum said...

Our greatest romances are gay.

A little presumptious, or are we just talking about fiction ... you know, like the whole idea of romantic love?

Nomennovum said...

Thank you for providing a superior exemplar of what makes a chick flick a chick flick.

The intended emotional effect of chick flicks on women is analogous to the intended effect of porn on men. Both are id stimulators and both have similar long-term ill effects.

Conserve Liberty said...

"Real men love Jane Austen."

Real men read Jane Austen.

CEO-MMP said...

How can gay love stories be romantic or great or whatever? I thought men were the enemy?

Or is it that gay men aren't really men?

I have no idea.

Where's Shouting Thomas when we need him?

CEO-MMP said...

And by the way, I've read Jane Austen. The perils of multiple British Literature classes.

Horrible, horrible stuff.

What can I say? I'm a fan of Americans like Carver, Bass, Pollock.

Ann Althouse said...

"I usually cannot not cry when someone else is, but that scene does not do much for me."

It probably doesn't work out of context if you haven't seen the whole movie. What you need to experience is that the other sister, played by Kate Winslet, is extremely expressive, going into mad swoons of love for her guy, while Emma is the sensible sister, whose love is through the whole movie to that point revealed in a restrained manner. So when Emma suddenly busts out crying, the viewer really shares the feeling of release. It's quite orgasmic.

Æthelflæd said...

Well, I can't say the movie's scene sent chills down my leg, but I thought it was very well done. I may not be the best person to ask, because I've never been a "girly-girl" and I don't generally seek out chick-flicks. Jane Austen movie adaptations have definitely been chickflickified to a certain extent, but the books are about controlling your emotions, virtue, and wisdom, couched in the particular problem of making a good marriage for a genteel woman.I daresay many who watch the movies don't get much more out of it than "she gets the right guy in the end", but that is their loss.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Nomennovum hypothesized:

The intended emotional effect of chick flicks on women is analogous to the intended effect of porn on men.

Althouse supports hypothesis:

So when Emma suddenly busts out crying, the viewer really shares the feeling of release. It's quite orgasmic.

Ann Althouse said...

""why is it that homosexual love stories now work so much better than hetero?""

Maybe it's something about forbidden or transgressive love. That's always been sexy. Romeo and Juliet and so forth.

Once there's plenty of ssm and acceptance and no more sneaking around in the shadows, gay love stories will lose whatever the author of that article thinks gives them their special zing.

Basically, unless love stories are set in the past or in some repressive present-day culture, it will be hard to make them sexy.

It's just a storytelling problem. You have to create some characters, then put obstacles in their way, make them suffer, and then, if it's a comedy, get them together, and if it's a drama, hurt them even more -- preferable kill one or both of them.

This is why I mostly resist fiction nowadays. You're expected to care for characters and the entertainment will be had by tormenting them. There's always this sadism in the experience: your pleasure through their suffering.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It probably doesn't work out of context if you haven't seen the whole movie

This. I shut the clip off about halfway. Meh. Whatever. It made no sense to me. I wanted to say to her....get a grip!

If I knew the context it might make some sense.

edutcher said...

Even Titus doesn't buy this drivel.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Althouse notes:

Maybe it's something about forbidden or transgressive love. That's always been sexy. Romeo and Juliet and so forth.

Once there's plenty of ssm and acceptance and no more sneaking around in the shadows, gay love stories will lose whatever the author of that article thinks gives them their special zing.


It seems too easy to hypothesize that after gay sex and gay love are normalized and boring, the avant garde of trangressive love portrayers will naturally move into the other fifty shades like bigamy, polygamy, bestiality, etc., UNLESS there is something special about 1 + 1 love. I understand that art is art but do we really need to applaud this?

jacksonjay said...


Once there's plenty of ssm and acceptance and no more sneaking around in the shadows...

New Boy Scout merit badge: Bondage Knots Tying

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

"why is it that homosexual love stories now work so much better than hetero?"

Indeed! The world would be a much better place without heterosexuals. Why in just one generation...

Kevin said...

One of my favorite scenes in all of movies. I got goosebumps reading about your goosebumps. (insert
obligatory "yo dawg" reference here)

The Gold Digger said...

This. I shut the clip off about halfway. Meh. Whatever. It made no sense to me. I wanted to say to her....get a grip!

If I remember correctly, Emma had loved Hugh and he her but then she found out he was engaged to someone else. This was after Emma and her mother and sister had been kicked out of their home after her father died. They were staying with various relatives, but they were always guests. She had no money and the man she loved was to marry someone else.

So in this scene, she learns that she does get to be with the man she loves. And I think he also happens to be wealthy, which solves her (and her mom and sister's) survival problem.

That's pretty big news. I would cry with joy and relief as well.

wyo sis said...

The movie scene that. gives me body chills is the one where John H. Miller tells Private Ryan to earn it.

Æthelflæd said...

jacksonjay said...

"New Boy Scout merit badge: Bondage Knots Tying."

Threadwinner.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Maybe it's something about forbidden or transgressive love. That's always been sexy. Romeo and Juliet and so forth.

How about this for a transgressive hetero love story plot:

Rising star female faces contempt and ridicule for loving lower class ill-educated male who supports her career and children. They are persecuted by (a) divorced boss of rising star who wants to bed her and (b) childless power females jealous of rising star and who only seek alpha mates. In other words, kinda the Sarah Palin story, but adapted to San Francisco or NYC.

Howard said...

Jane Austin is probably the greatest and most informing view into the female mind. Everything men need to know is embodied in the character Mr. Darcy (as played by Colon Filth). Once you have that character faked, all women are putty in your hands.

prairie wind said...

I was going to stay out of this one until Freeman mentioned The Notebook. EVEN THOUGH it has Ryan Gosling and James Garner in it, that movie is TERRIBLE. HORRIBLE. NO GOOD. VERY BAD.

I like to compare/contrast the Emma-Thompson-becomes-aware scenes in Sense and Sensibility and in Love Actually. In both, the realization is life-changing for the character, in both she cries. In both, I cry.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Howard wrote: as played by Colon Filth

Nice malapropism. In context, of course.

G Joubert said...

why is it that homosexual love stories now work so much better than hetero?

Hollywood and filmmakers generally ran out of new romantic plot ideas about 75 years ago. Teh Gheys gives them a whole new palette to work with. So they think. Liberace might sell, but it remains to be seen whether gay-themed romance overall is something most people will shell out to watch.

Dante said...

Maybe it's something about forbidden or transgressive love. That's always been sexy. Romeo and Juliet and so forth.

This (R) movie the other night was incredibly erotic. A hot blonde with a but implant is taking care of a woman who lost her memory, and seems to be in trouble.

At one point the hot (petite) blonde tells the busty brunette she doesn't need to sleep on the couch, because the bed is big enough. There is a good night kiss, that leads to a pause, and the more kissing, and, most of the rest if left to the imagination.

That crossing of the line, the lust (and caring) coming out. Perfectly erotic.

I can't imagine feeling the same way with a couple of guys, somehow. And I'll bet most women feel the same way about that, and I'll bet more than a few would find the female scene erotic as well.

ad hoc said...

One of the shared characteristics in Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre is that the characters spend enough time in one another's company to realize they a have a tremendous affinity of spirit. That is the basis for the romance; not love at first sight or overwhelming physical attraction. In fact, when Rochester asks Jane if she finds him handsome she responds - "No".

Also, each of these stories speak to self-control and not letting one's emotions sway one's judgement.

MnMark said...

There's this thing that liberals tend to fall into, where they first claim that something that inherently isn't equal is equal...and then they go a step further and claim it's not only equal, it's better.

They've been doing that with women. Women aren't just equal to men - they're actually BETTER than men.

And now it's happening with homosexuality. Homosexuals aren't just equal to normal people - they're actually BETTER than normal people.

Since they're living in a fantasy world where they've decided these things are equal, without reference to reality, it's simple and emotionally tempting to go to the next step and claim they're actually better. Since it's all liberal fantasy anyway, why not?

They never seem to notice how easily they toss away their sacred idea of "equality" when it suits them.

Ralph L said...

And I think he also happens to be wealthy
No, his mother disinherits him when she learns of the first secret engagement.

Elinor (Emma) thought that Edward (Hugh) was already married to the nasty girl he'd been engaged to, but she'd ensnared Edward's brother after money was settled on him instead of Edward by his nasty mother.

That's why it was a shock.

William said...

If an old, rich guy hires a pretty young girl to be his secretary and then makes her wear sexy outfits and get implants, could such a story possibly be told as a great romance?.......I think Emma Thompson was the best Jane Austen heroine ever. Her presence expressed the wit, syle, and intelligence of Jane Austen. Richard Benjamin was a perfect fit as Portnoy. Humphrey Bogart was a great Hemingway and Raymond Chandler hero.....That's probably why there have been no great movies based on Fitzgerald novels. I can't think of any actor who could pull off Gatsby.......I like Peter Linklage's performance as the dwarf in Game of Thrones. He really brings dignity and impact to the role. Still, one can't help but think how much more impressive and convincing Tom Cruise would have been in that role.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Oooh, I remember now, thanks for mentioning the context, Althouse. I'd forgotten that aspect of it.

Joe said...

our greatest romances are gay

Name one besides Brokeback Mountain (which isn't great, but one people will list.)

Moreover, from what I understand about Liberace, I wouldn't call his relationships romantic; they were more excessively abusive.

Bender said...

Emma with Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller is great. Here's the scene where they confess their love for each other (finally).

Bender said...

Emma is afraid that Mr. Knightly is going to say he loves someone else, but when he says he loves her . . .

deborah said...

Althouse, I never realized you were such a chick. I'm trying to recall a movie scene that gave me actual chills.

Not only did the Thompson character have to suppress her feelings of love, she had to be the responsible one in the household. I especially think of the scene where both her mother and sister were wailing in their separate bedrooms, and she just sits down on the landing step and begins to drink the tea she had been bringing to one of them.

n.n said...

This makes perfect sense. A homosexual relationship intrinsically causes a dissociation of risk (i.e. breeder avoidance). At least it does for women. Men still suffer from discrimination by nature, but the consequences are of their own election.

Anyway, what is a romance with responsibility? You cannot be ideally in love with responsibility or risk to harsh your mellow. You also cannot be ideally in love while working. Too many distractions.

So, homosexual behavior, at least female homosexual behavior, is a romantic concept for people who prefer to live a fantasy without the mind distorting effects of psychotropic drugs.

It's no wonder that the natural concept of a mother and father is losing favor to the anthropogenic prescription of of single-parent, guardian, or surrogate. Women, and men, just want to have fun and be serenaded with a perpetual romance.