It’s not exactly news to suggest that you can feel intensely lonely in the middle of a crowd, but that doesn’t make it any the less unpleasant.
Such was my experience with The Hangover. I knew what sort of a comedy it was, but I also knew of people I respect saying that this was a cut above others of the type. Some even saying that it was likely to be one of the films of the year. So I thought I’d give it a go. I was expecting to find some of it offensive and some of it just not my type of thing – but I’d heard enough to convince me that I’d find sufficient in there to laugh at, and that I’d be impressed by the whole thing.
Mistake. I felt so alone. How depressing to feel like you’re the only one not in the gag, as the whole cinema convulses with laughter as you sit with there a fixed grin, wanting and not wanting to feel part of it at the same time. Do otherwise sane and compassionate people really permissable to laugh at the idea of a man being abused by his wife? Or am I an exception – is it only because in my professional capacity I have come across as many men who have been abused by their partner as I have women? Or are the people laughing afraid and insecure? I’m not meaning to judge them – I really want to know what’s going on here?
More generally, how have we let it become normal for a story to portray women as abusive, manipulative or stripper only for it ‘redeemed‘ (read – ‘excused’) at the end by an ending that implies she’s found true love? Is it a coincidence that such a film features an appearance by a sports star (Mike Tyson), with a publicly stated questionable attitude to women?
I mustn’t paint myself as exiting the cinema in a state of complete joylessness. So I must be fair (and this mustn’t be read as faint praise – I mean what I’m about to say) it was really well shot. Especially the opening 20 minutes or so – but throughout the whole film there was the sense of visual composition and thought, and on appropriate occasions not a little style. Pleasingly, the tiger gag was well handled. Set off at the start of the film, it’s then left to simmer unnoticed for a long time, before being suddenly and bought to the various stages of boiling.
That aside, though, I left empty, disappointed and a little lonely. I could have made out that I enjoyed it. I don’t want the moral high-ground. I don’t want to be a snob. Neither, though do want to give in, to sell-out, to let go of what’s I feel to be indisputably right and appropriate.
Am in the sane minority, or is it no more than a case of ‘what works for you’?
Or, even worse, am I a joyless, humourless, out of touch prude who needs to lighten-up?