The Thing I Like About …

French Kiss:  when she’s telling Charlie the truth but doesn’t realize it.

In French Kiss, Kate is engaged to Charlie, a doctor who has a conference in France to which she is unable to go.  While in France, Charlie falls for the lovely Juliet, and dumps Kate over the phone.  Kate decides to follow Charlie to France, to win him back from Juliet and get back the life she had carefully, meticulously planned.  She’s a planner.

Of course, things go horribly wrong – stolen luggage, stolen passport, random smoking French criminal (but a nice criminal) tagging along, a horrible bout of lactose intolerance – but despite great adversity, Kate finds Charlie, and she and Luc (the criminal) devise a plan to win Charlie back.  A plan that involves making Charlie think Kate doesn’t need him anymore – because we always want what we can’t have, right?  So as soon as she presents herself as someone who has moved beyond him, Charlie will forget all about Juliet and go back to Canada with Kate.  And Kate needs that, because, of course, she hasn’t moved beyond Charlie at all.

So she finds Charlie and Juliet on the beach, and she sits down and starts talking to them jovially about her adventure.  “I got on a plane, and flew over the big blue ocean” – she is terribly afraid of flying – “and then everything went wrong.  So I was wandering the streets of Paris, penniless, without a hope in the world … you can do a lot of soul-searching in a time like that.  I realized that I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to protect myself from exactly this situation” – she’s a planner – “and you cannot do it.  There’s no home safe enough, no relationship secure enough.  You’re just setting yourself up for an even bigger fall and having an incredibly boring time in the process.  Sorry, Charlie.”  She sits back to admire her handiwork:  Charlie is suitably intrigued by her detached manner and her brutal honesty, completely unaware that it is a ruse to entice him back “home”.  The ruse works so well, in fact, that Charlie does want Kate back (or perhaps Kate also – I’ve never been sure).

The problem is that Kate wasn’t lying.  She doesn’t know she wasn’t lying until later, when she realizes that everything she said was spot-on:  she had confronted her fears, done something daring, faced sincere hardship … this meticulous planner plunged into complete unpredictability, with a man who is, well, a criminal (but a nice criminal); she did do a lot of soul-searching, she did begin to see a life without Charlie in it, and she did see the fruitlessness of trying to prevent heartache by living in a cushioned bubble.

People go through life in a very complicated manner.  We have things or people or situations that we don’t want to lose, and we hang onto those things or people or situations with all ten fingernails dug in, ignoring pretty much everything else – the messages our bodies are sending, the messages we’re trying to send ourselves about where our hearts really lie, about what we really want, about what’s actually best for us.  We ignore the voices inside us that scream for a better happiness because we’re terrified of losing what we already have … even if we don’t really want it anymore.  Kate makes it almost to the end of the film before listening to the stuff she already said – her “lie” to Charlie, her plan to win him back – but she finally does listen, and accept, and change and grow and become happier.

So now it’s our turn.

 

 

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