Saturday, 10 March 2012

Terms of Endearment

Terms of Endearment, 1983
Directed by James L. Brooks
Nominated for 11 Oscars, Won 5
Up Against: The Big Chill, The Dresser, The Right Stuff, Tender Mercies

Terms of Endearment is a mother-daughter story. Aurora lost her husband when her only daughter Emma was a young girl. It's been the two of them for most of Emma's life. When Aurora tells Emma, the night before her wedding, that marrying her fiancee, Flap, will be a catastrophic mistake, things get tense for the two. Emma marries Flap while her mother doesn't attend the wedding, and the two move away because Flap gets a job teaching English at a university.

During their time living apart, we follow their 2 different stories. Aurora is on her own, living with only herself and a maid or two. She strikes up an extremely unlikely relationship with her drunken, womanizing, ex-astronaut neighbour, despite the fact that she is prim, proper and strict, hardly able to tolerate his (Garrett's) ways. Meanwhile, Emma and Flap are having troubles of their own. They now have several kids, and are short on money. Emma starts to expect Flap is cheating, while she goes out into a little affair herself.

The movie doesn't have a plot, exactly. This is a movie about life, and the struggles and joys within them. Both Debra Winger (Emma) and Shirley MacLaine (Aurora) give fantastic performances. Debra Winger as the awkward and headstrong daughter, and Shirley MacLaine as the prim, proper and harsh mother. Also, both Jack Nicholson and Jeff Daniels give great supporting performances.

I commend the movie for giving such real performances and portrayals of life. Life doesn't have 'plots', it is just moving along, and there are good things and bad things, but we must have relationships, especially healthy ones.

What I wasn't crazy about in this movie was we didn't really get to know the characters. We saw flashes of their lives at different points in time, over several years, but never did we really get to know their characters. We never got to see why Aurora fell in love with Garrett, and what changed about what she felt about him. We didn't the gradual breakdown of Emma and Flap's marriage, we only saw them happy one moment and then angry and yelling the next. I felt this movie would've been a lot stronger had the character been portrayed more 2D. But that's just me.

While I don't usually spoil reviews, this one I can't really help. The last half hour, when Emma is in a bad position with Flap and her children (her eldest son seems to really hate her), but having a decent relationship with her mother, she discovers she has cancer- and is dying. This would've been a much more moving bit if I'd known the characters and cared for them more than I did. But I didn't. And that's just why the movie almost worked for me, but not quite.

Acting- 8/10     
Directing- 7/10     
Screenplay- 6.5/10     
Music – 7.5/10    
Visuals- 7.5/10     
Entertaining- 6.5/10    
Emotional Connection- 6/10     
Rewatchability- 5/10     
Overall Enjoyment- 6.5/10     
Overall Package- 6.5/10      

Total: 67/100

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