A Happyish Ending

If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that you should never recommend something you love to me.

I’m like the otherwise lovable hero who begs the heroine to walk away from him because of his fatal flaw. If I do break down and try to share what you love, there are two outcomes:

* I will hate it and tear it into teensy little pieces. See: My Date with Dirk Pitt.

* I will like it, and as I make my way through it, I’ll send you roughly 25 emails/texts/notes-by-carrier-pigeon, detailing my impressions and thoughts. Then I’ll send you 25 more over the next week as I rehash it, work out plot angles, and distill the essence of my opinion about it. By the time I get it all out of my system, we’ll both be sick of it.

But how about if I just don’t do that? How about if I just watch it, take what I like and leave what I don’t, and move on?

Great idea! I think I’ll also stop breathing tomorrow and see how that works.

Meanwhile, I thought I’d mention this movie I watched last week, Not Another Happy Ending.


My editor recommended it to me. (For the purposes of the blog, my editor’s name is Pen. “My name is Pen — Red Pen.”)

Pen admitted up front that the movie is a romantic comedy. I don’t do well with the romance genre. I have trouble relating to cartoon people pretending to be real, and cartoon romances pretending to be workable, and serious massive relationship issues solved by one good kiss.

(I do tend to enjoy the kisses, though.)

Anyway, I gave the movie try because it’s a British indie film and it’s about a writer and her editor. Basic premise:

Tom is an independent publisher who accepts Jane’s heart-rending novel, provided they work together to make it publishable. They do, in a cute little montage with an adorable song, and he publishes it, and it’s a smashing success.

Except that just before he published it, he changed the title from The Unending Anguish of My Father to Happy Ending.

Jane (who really needs to get over herself) is furious. She’s under contract for one more book, but when that’s done, she is finished with Tom. She’s going to sign with a big publishing house and leave Tom’s traitorous self in the dust. Fine, says Tom. Just get the novel to him so he can sell it, because his little publishing house is depending on those sales.

She gets to the very last chapter of her second novel… and hits writer’s block.

Tom tries to break her block by making her miserable (along the lines of suffering leading to art). Jane, meanwhile, is dismayed when her protagonist (“I prefer heroine”) starts showing up demanding to know why the novel’s not done. There are high-jinks and mistakes and drama and eventually it all resolves with a good kiss.

(Advisory: there’s one brief nude — not sex — scene.)

After 11 emails to Pen, plus extensive conversation with DJ, plus 6 messages to an Facebook friend who was an unfortunate innocent bystander, I finally worked out my opinion of the movie. The storyline is rather unfocused; some scenes are great, and others leave you wondering why they’re even there. Plus, it’s British, so I realized that I missed some cues that would have explained the story better. The romance is, as usual, improbable and I didn’t really care much about it.

But the “writerly parts” were fantastic. Including:

* Jane’s bulletin board where she keeps her rejection letters.
* The fact that Jane bakes when she’s blocked.
* The part where the protagonist types out a suggested ending for the novel:

Jane: This is the end to Les Miserables.
Darsie: I know! Isn’t it great? You should make the ending something like that!

* Jane denying that her books are in any way autobiographical… even though her middle name is Darsie.
* The impassioned, creative discussions with Tom about how to build a scene and what to do about character development.

I mean, they spend half the movie carrying around huge printed-out manuscripts, which nobody really does. It’s like pure writer’s fantasy.

I emailed Pen demanding to know why she and I didn’t meet together in coffee shops, each with our own copy of the manuscript, to do the editing. Or why we didn’t walk along city streets, talking and arguing and working stuff out. Also, why wasn’t she a hot blue-eyed man with a Scottish-French accent?

So do I recommend this movie? Mm, kind of. Writer-types will probably get a kick out of it. Romance types won’t mind the hot editor.

Um, I didn’t mind the hot editor, either.


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