I just got back from watching Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown. I liked this movie. I didn't love it, but I liked it. Living on the east coast and making more trips than I'd like to small town mid-America for family funerals, there were moments of reminiscence and familiarity for me in this movie. It had its weird moments, some of which were explained by seeing Tom Cruise’s name listed as one of the producers. His movies always seem bizarre in a you’d-understand-if-you-were-a-Scientologist kind of way, and this had those moments.
But there was a very profound moment at the end of the movie. Drew (Orlando Bloom) is searching for Claire (Kirsten Dunst). He’s running through a crowd and in the perfect movie moment, the crowds should part, birds should sing, and Claire should be standing alone with a smile on her face waiting for him. But that isn’t what happens. Instead, he runs elatedly through the crowd, having realized that he loves her. He’s looking for her red hat and as he comes to a carousel, dozens of red hats suddenly pop up everywhere. The music from the soundtrack blends discordantly with the music from the carousel. He looks too long and we begin to wonder. Is she really there? Is this movie going to have a lousy ending? Should he just give up and go back to the car? When the moment has gone on impossibly long and we’ve nearly given up hope, there among the red hats is Claire.
And here’s the profundity. I’ve talked with several single friends lately about the difference between expectations—our own and others—and reality. The married pundits who write about the sad, selfish plight of singles seem to think that everyone should have a crowd-parting, when-you-expect-it moment during college or soon thereafter. But it doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes there are dozens of red hats and discordant music and tense moments (years?) of waiting. I think that’s what has happened to my true love. I think he’s out there, searching, trying to hear the soundtrack over the carousel, searching every face under a red hat to see if I’m there.
Those Smug Marrieds (to borrow an apt phrase from Bridget Jones) have given up. They’ve walked away and decided that this one has a lousy ending. But if you walk out of a movie too soon, sometimes you miss the great ending. Don’t walk out on our story yet; some great moments are right around the corner.