Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Movie Without The "S" Word

I went to see The Break-Up this weekend with a group of girlfriends. I can't say I loved it but I didn't hate it either. Mostly I think it just made me kind of sad. I'll try to avoid any spoilers here but the premise of the movie is that Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn play a couple that calls it quits on their relationship but neither one wants to move out of their awesome Chicago condo. (This is where I have to give the movie extreme props for actually being filmed in Chicago unlike the movie Chicago which was filmed in Canada. Go figure.) The movie progresses with some amusing but mean-spirited mind games played back and forth and the couple is obviously doomed even though both parties express to friends that they really do want to be together. That's where I got a little annoyed with Hollywood.

She wants him, he wants her - but neither one is willing to say that to the other. I know this plot line has been used in countless other movies too but in The Break-Up pride became the plot driving device. Both characters were at fault and what I found most saddening was that two words remained unsaid at all the right moments: "I'm Sorry". I felt like if at any time one of the leads simply uttered that small phrase you could cut to a hug and kiss and roll the credits (which is of course why it remained the movie without the "S" word). Not to say that an apology would -or ever does- fix everything but it would certainly start the train on the right tracks.

So the movie got me thinking a lot about apologies. "I'm sorry" doesn't inherently mean the same thing as "It's my fault" or "I was all wrong". Think about how many times we use the phrase to comfort people. If someone says "My dog just died", you can easily respond with "I'm so sorry" even if you are in no way related to, let alone responsible for, the death of said dog. We can be so comfortable and almost reflexive with our uses of "I'm sorry" to ease the pains of strangers or mere acquaintances but the words become more difficult when the hurt is in the eyes of loved ones. In relationships though, many times "I'm sorry" does become equated with "It's my fault" but that's no reason to let it go unsaid. Most conflicts really are the fault of both people involved - both speaker and listener are responsible for misinterpreted words - and it seems "I'm sorry" can easily and rightly be followed by "I'm sorry too". But "sorry" remains a choice. It's a decision to choose humility and put love for another person above pride. It's a decision to open a door to forgiveness. I'm probably oversimplifying most arguments, but on the other hand, when has a humble spirit ever made a situation worse?

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