Sunday, December 9, 2007

Love Story

Love Story; Romance, USA, 1970; D: Arthur Hiller, S: Ryan O'Neal, Ali MacGraw, Ray Milland, Russell Nype, Katharine Balfour, John Marley, Sydney Walker, Robert Modica, Tommy Lee Jones

Student Oliver Barrett meets student Jenny who works in the library and starts an argument with her. Later on he invites her for a cup of coffee and then to watch him play in a hockey game. Even though Jenny is always pretending to be sarcastic, the two of them fall in love. But since Oliver's wealthy father disapproves of the marriage with Jenny, who is a poor Catholic girl, he breaks contact with him. Still, the couple gets married in presence of Jenny's father Phil. When Oliver graduates law, they move to New York. Still, it is then discovered Jenny is terminally ill. Even though she gets treated in a hospital, she dies with only 25 years.

"Love Story", winner of 5 Golden Globes (best picture - drama, director, screenplay, music, actress Ali MacGraw) and one Oscar (best music), has been incredibly bad mouthed and attacked from numerous circles for "sappy elements", but it's a quality film because it's title sums up pretty much all there is to it. It's a simple, pure love story in full sense of the word that looks pretty real and has a refreshingly romantic, emotional tone to it, which isn't a bad thing: if there are so many movies that show how people hate each other, then it's only natural to have some that show how people simply love each other. Arthur Hiller's direction is deliberately shaky and wild, in accordance with the whole 70s feel to it, even slightly elliptic at moments, but the humorous moments immediately suck the viewer into it's world, especially in the brilliant, hilarious dialogue where rich Oliver meets the poor Jenny in a library ("You look stupid and rich." - "Well, what if I'm smart and poor?" - "I'm smart and poor." - "What makes you so smart?" - "I wouldn't go out for coffee with you." - "I wouldn't never invite someone like you for coffee." - "Yes, because you're stupid!").

Ali MacGraw plays the cynical, but kind student Jenny with perfection, never allowing her to be just a typical, boring beauty, but a clever girl with naughty sarcasm - when she walks with Oliver one night and he spontaneously kisses her on the cheek, she replies with: "I never said you could!" - "What?" - "Kiss me.", but then she goes on to kiss him. It's a pity she never became a big star. She has so much natural charm it's amazing. Even though the story is constructed within the cliche of a "rich guy getting disinherited by marrying a poor girl", it somehow doesn't show, and the only really bad thing is the last third that gets heavily pathetic at moments, but mostly due to the heavy music. In almost every other aspect, "Love Story" is restrained and has a fresh feel to it, almost showing a documentary portray of real love, and some moments are pure gold - one of them is the one where Oliver and Jenny are sleeping together in bed and he gets flattered when he hears he is "up there with the Beatles, Bach and Mozart" in her mind.


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