“We need Kate, and we need Leo”

titanic2I am very fond of the movie Love, Actually. Long ago when it came out and I saw it in the theater, I recognized all its faults, but since then I’ve seen it so often that I don’t care about faults any more. I just enjoy spending time with the fine ensemble cast, which includes many of my favorite actors, and I particularly enjoy Richard Curtis’s humor. (Curtis wrote the screenplay as well as directed the film.) It’s well-written, cheerful, and sappy. Perfect for me.

In one scene Liam Neeson is trying to help his eleven-year-old stepson sort out a thorny romantic dilemma.

“We need Kate,” he says, “and we need Leo. And we need them now. Come on.” In the next shot you see the two watching Titanic. On screen Jack and Rose are standing in the prow of the ship, their arms spread into the wind. “Do you trust me?” asks Jack. “I trust you,” says Rose.

Neeson and his stepson are acting out this scene in their living room.

“Do you trust me?” asks Neeson.

“I trust you,” says his stepson.

“Fool!” yelps Neeson, tickling him, and they both collapse, giggling, on the sofa.

I’ve always loved this tiny scene and I remembered it the other night when DH was away, Jon and I were feeling ropey, and Jon pulled out the Titanic DVD.

Jon, Lucy, and I watched the film over two nights. For Lucy it was a bit too frightening and too sad for real pleasure. She watched the second half cuddling with me in my chair, her face half-turned from the screen. Lucy has been exposed to so little media (do we count all seven seasons of West Wing on DVD?) that at twelve she is a tender soul. I had to explain to her that Jack and Rose hadn’t really existed, but Titanic had, and had indeed gone down. “I don’t like boats,” she whispered in my ear.

For Jon, who first saw it when he was about Lucy’s age, I think it was a visit to his childhood, a return to a less complicated time when idealism reigned and soaring romance seemed right around the corner. He was blue when the first credits rolled, but by the time the dolphins were leaping in the waves creaming from the bow of the ship and the lush score was ringing out, his mood had lifted. “This film may have one of the best soundtracks ever,” he exclaimed. Whenever I looked over, his face by the light of the screen looked intent and happy.

Isn’t it wonderful how a well-made film or book can smooth out a rumpled spirit? When I myself am a bit knocked off my feet by life I go back to my own childhood and reread old favorites. Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books. Anne of Green Gables. My Friend Flicka. All Creatures Great and Small. Cheaper by the Dozen. Mrs. Mike. The Family Nobody Wanted. Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard. Karen by Marie Killilea. Of course most of these books were written for twelve-year-olds, but that never bothers me. Deep in their well-thumbed pages I feel warm, protected, and safe.

And doesn’t everyone need that once in a while?

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