June 15, 2008
The problem with Sex And The City was the ending. If you haven't seen the movie yet stop reading and skip to the next paragraph. Because everything worked out. It had the fantasy fairy-tale ending that everyone wanted - except me. I would have preferred some realism. Carrie ends up in her old apartment depressed, angry, in debt and unable to trust a man ever again. Miranda and Steve don't find each other on the bridge, one of them gets the date wrong and then they fight over whose fault it was. Samantha cheats and then stays with Smith out of guilt and Charlotte's baby is stolen .
The only realistic scene in the movie is when Carrie reads Cinderella to the little Chinese girl and then informs her that fairy tales don't always work out.
The mental turmoil one goes through having to endure these so-called happy endings is exhausting. I always feel cheated by them. Worst one of all? Pretty Woman. In my version she would end up back on the street. She would have kept the gloves that went with the red dress but that was it. She'd have sold the jewelry for crack. The last scene would be her sitting on the kerb in ripped fishnets and Payless sandals eating a burrito when Richard Gere walks past with Cameron Diaz as his new bride.
The best movies have doomed or at least ambiguous endings. Thelma and Louise. Annie Hall. Casablanca. And Dr Zhivago? Dashed romance, failed marriages - what could be better.
Then there's The Way We Were - the best unhappy ending ever. Barbra Streisand is forsaken for a dumbbell, the uncomplicated woman who looks good and probably doesn't ask too many questions. Robert Redford ends up with a home and family - Barbra ends up with a placard and the memories.
What if there was a movie studio that only made movies with unhappy endings? How great would that be? Screenwriters would go in to pitch their film and the development executives would say, "The ending. Too upbeat. They're too likeable."
If there were a position for someone to dream up original scenarios for hopeless situations I'd have a job for life.
People say all the time that they want the fairy-tale. But originally, the Grimm fairy tales were pretty dark. No one mentions The Girl With No Hands. Or that Cinderella's stepsisters cut their toes off and had their eyes poked out by pigeons. When I was little my favourite bedtime story was the tale of Medea. It was filled with abandonment, thwarted love, jealousy and revenge. Even then, I wanted to be prepared.
At the end of Sex And The City, everyone got what they wanted but in real life, that never happens. Isn't the ideal ending supposed to make you feel better about your life? Maybe in the sequel we'll learn that even though they got what they wanted, they're still miserable. I can only hope.