Why These Three Oscar-Nominated Films Redefine Love

Call Me By Your Name A24

We’re fragile and capricious, yet the development of our humanity is at the mercy of connectivity. It’s a bad joke. The adaptation that demarcates us from the lesser primates is the very same one that keeps us in check, on our toes, and weak in the face of true enlightenment. How odd it is that love, something so vaguely defined, has managed to remain at the nucleus of our imagination since time immemorial. We write about love, kill for it and suffer because of it, despite an age wherein our neuroscience and epistemology has effectively debunked its mysticism. I stipulate that, if we are to retain our lucidity, we must redefine love and relinquish our fixation of it. No more applying ethereal agency to it, no more evaluating its validity based on which genders it's shared between, and most importantly, acknowledging its unmitigated potential for anguish and misery. This idea seems to resonate with people much more than it used to. The three Oscar-nominated films currently procuring the most buzz revel in this ideal. Lady Bird, Call Me By Your Name and The Shape Of Water attempt to frame the age-old concept in new contexts, consciously subverting the antiquated tropes most frequently espoused to it.

This is an important message to implement. “We are never more defenceless against suffering as when we love.” Love can certainly be a wondrous thing, but only when we rob it of its authority. Our art has taught us that falling in love is essential to any worthwhile human’s journey. That to fail in this way, is to somehow forfeit your right to happiness. Well, despite what your celestial dictators might have told you, here’s the truth of it: on balance, human beings are novelty seeking narcissist will an allergy to liability. Passion is fleeting and companionate love is an illusion. You're most probably going to die alone and that’s OK. It doesn’t mean your experience on Earth was a failure. Like the frequent illusion to flies in Call Me By Your Name teaches us, there is beauty in the provisional. They’re born, they buzz around for a little while and then they return to the earth and the process repeats.

My tone may belie the impression of bitterness, but I’m the kind of person that finds comfort in the bleak, anti-climatic elements of existence. I haven’t been burnt by love but taught an indespensible lesson rather. That lesson being intensity does not as a rule beget longevity. And my feeling strongly about a person in no way masks my many shortcomings. My emotions don’t make me loveable. I am not loveable, at least not in the traditional sense, but traditional be damned.

Laurie Metcalf and Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird Photo: A24

One of the most recommendable things about Lady Bird is its insistence to forgo the girl meets guy motif. Love is a very present force in the film, but it’s framed in a myriad of ways; the tension shared between a mother and daughter, the solidarity of friends, and the heartbreak of realizing your dreams don’t always love you back.

It isn’t all grim business, friends, and even I’m not immune to feeling warm and husky on occasion. Alas, despite all my moralizing, nothing feels as good as taking the person I love by the hand and conversely there is a very particular breed of anxiety afforded to the knowledge that she is having anything resembling a bad day. That’s the beautiful bargain. Like a custodian falling in love with an amphibian pulp monster: when it happens (and it happens to everyone at least once), no amount of Freud or Kierkegaard can silence that infamous rattle. A rattle that laughs at evolution and begs us to put aside all we know in search of a bit of crumpet. And we do it with alacrity. Because love sucks and if you wanted, you could abandon the whole the thing altogether with ease. But I wouldn't recommend that. I recommend you close your eyes and embrace the beating because the alternative is dreadfully boring.


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