Minutia Madness: Mr. & Mrs. Smith Edition
By Bret Dorman
(As always, SPOILERS! may apply to the movie in discussion.)Everyone knows what makes a movie good. Blurbs like “compelling”, “powerful”, and “explosive non stop thrill ride that will leave you on the edge of your seat!” are common place on movie posters. In reviews (including my own) people point out how the direction is “great”, how the writing is “awesome”, and how the acting is “wonderful”. Every once in a while you can find a really great essay from a smart film critic (a real one) or film maker that actually explains why a movie is good and helps you as a viewer become a better film watcher.
But what about those small moments that fall in between the cracks? I understand the need to talk about a movie in the broad sense, its the easiest most SPOILER! free way of saying if you liked or didn’t like a movie. I prefer people to talk in specifics, to actually know why something is good or bad. But this goes beyond all that. This is blowing the tiniest detail way out of proportion. This is what makes me a film nerd. This is Minutia Madness!!!
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Written by Simon Kinberg; Directed by Doug Liman
Two things need to be noted before getting into this week’s scene. The first is a regrettable side effect of celebrity fame. And that is gossip magazines and tabloids. Mr. & Mrs. Smith, despite how good of a movie it actually is, will always carry around that extra weight of being the movie that broke up the Brad Pitt-Jennifer Aniston relationship and started the Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie relationship (which is still going strong). A lot of people were blaming Jolie for being a ‘homewrecker’ when the truth is people don’t really care about celebrity relationships or see them as farces/shams/stunts anyway.The second item of note is that most movies, especially ones with two mega-likable stars, don’t take time to show us the ‘falling in love’ aspect. Two characters meet because the script needs them to, then just a couple of scenes later the start throwing around the ‘L’ word. While I understand that ‘love at first sight’ is a thing, Mr. & Mrs. Smith excels because it actually deals with the consequences of love, the ups and downs.
Not every movie needs to fully flesh out its love story, but for the story of Mr. & Mrs. Smith its essential. The movie understands this. Instead of just using the marriage device as a gimmick to make for some silly action scenes it has a lot of truth and heart behind it. And when it comes to the actual falling in love part, the movie actually shows us how it happened. John and Jane are both assassins and both in danger of getting caught (or at least interrogated). So they team up not knowing who the other really is, both thinking they are with a ‘normal’ (albeit extremely good looking) person. They spend the night flirting and dancing and giving into lust. Then the next morning John is gone. Jane understands. It’s probably for the best. She would probably leave him anyway. But then John returns with breakfast…
I’m not a huge Angelina Jolie fan. She’s in a couple of cool things, couple of duds, and more recently been branching out into political activism and heavier roles (while still keeping her ‘Hollywood actiony’ side with hits like Salt). I think Jolie is sometimes attractive and sometimes just good looking. But here, in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, not only is Jolie drop dead gorgeous, she’s a great actress, elevating the typical popcorn flick role to a subtle and personal character.It’s the look. The look Jolie gives Pitt when he enters the room. Even before we’ve seen Pitt come back into the scene we know from her look that he’s returned. That right there, is the look of love. And its captured on film, in a movie that centers around guns and explosions. If just one time I entered a room and got that look, I’d be a lucky man. The way her head tilts down, eyes locked on Pitt, and she can’t help but smile. Not one of those fake smiles either, like she’s posing in front of a camera, its just subtle enough for it to be an honest reaction. She slinks her shoulders and leans back in just the right femininely seductive way that makes my inner cave man go nuts. She’s damn near perfect.
A lot can be said for the whole ‘love at first sight’ cliche, but another cliche can be used here instead. ‘If you love something, let it go…’ Jane knows this can only be a one night thing. It can’t possibly be anything else. Besides, ‘men’ as a whole have a reputation for just being out for a lay, not a re-lay-tionship (oh snap). She doesn’t make the decision to let him go but the fact he returns means a lot.
The movie goes on to have some great little moments. Pitt’s accidental firing into the car window is priceless. The two wreck the house while fighting, then wreck it again while love making. Pitt has a great moment where he goes back to give a baddie just a little extra kick. The only thing missing from the movie as a whole is a solid badguy and a big finale. There could have (and should have) been a sequel, but for whatever reason that never became a thing. But it’s undeniable… the chemistry here is real and its tough to beat.
So what do you think? Is Jolie’s romantic reaction worthy of swooning over? Or am I just crazy for focusing on this minute detail?