With respect to Socrates, my unexamined life is not worth living. The front room is the face we show everyone but we hide our true self in the back room.
I have seen Annie Hall many times. Cuddling with my bride on our sofa (it’s a love seat but the term has never sat well with me) I watched it with new eyes. For example, I don’t recall viewing the film with my family and suddenly feel my sister’s or father’s eyes on me. Last night, on multiple occasions while laughing heartily at Alvy’s neurotic rants I noticed my angel cast her eyes knowingly at me, no doubt finding similarities in our relationship. Newly plump with experiential knowledge I found deeper resonance with the jokes, not unlike the way I look at certain sly innuendos from Seinfeld (Elaine’s saxophonist boyfriend comes immediately to mind).
There is a danger to watching a beloved film with your own beloved. What if they hate it? What does that mean? Do you really understand her? Is she the girl you thought she was? Why is she looking at her watch? Why didn’t she laugh there? That was the funniest scene! Her ambivalence is totally ruining the experience of this movie! I can’t watch anything with her! Ever!
My fears were unfounded. She loved it. Halfway through I knew. Just one sentence said it all.
“Can you press pause, bebehh, I have to pee.”
Actually, watching it with her enhanced my enjoyment in ways surpassing those expressed above. From the film nerd perspective it was delightful for me and let’s say, for her as well, since she’s crazy about me and likes when I’m excited to teach her new things.
“Look at that! He looks so young!”
“I know. And this was before he made The Deer Hunter. He was virtually unknown.”
“Look carefully. You see that brunette? That’s Sigourney Weaver.”
“Wow. But why didn’t they move the camera in closer?”
“She’s so freaking tall it may have looked strange.”
“Is that guy a famous person?”
“That’s Paul Simon. And when he says he’s meeting up at the Pierre with Jack and Angelica, he’s talking about Jack Nicholson and Angelica Huston who were a huge item in the Seventies. Of course, Nicholson eventually broke her heart not able to commit to one woman.”
“This is New York City, right? It’s so clean. Not like the other movies I’ve seen that show it looking dirty and gritty.”
“I agree. And this was shot in the 70’s, when other films like Taxi Driver and The French Connection were showing that grittiness. Woody Allen had a love affair with New York City and cinematographer Gordon Willis captured the city with same tenderness, as he did in several Woody Allen films.”
“Oooh… I liked the different things they did with the camera, like the scene with both families and when he goes back home into his past.”
“Woody Allen was profoundly influenced by Ingmar Bergman, and a lot of his tricks were used in previous films by Bergman. Like when the old man returns home in Wild Strawberries.”
The annoying film student tidbits I rattled off were just the tip of the iceberg. The huge glacier reveal of the evening was in how well we fit. There are too many similarities with our relationship and Alvy and Annie’s to name here and even to name a few probably crosses into the “sharing too much” category. It is enough to say I can see where Alvy goes wrong and spoils the relationship and Annie is unable to wait around for him to change as she is growing and transforming herself.
In order for me to be worthy enough to deserve someone like my bride I needed to change and be ready and open to the possibility of love. And not with fixed expectations but with an open mind and heart, willing to receive someone as they are and trust they are able to do the same.