Things had been going swimmingly between myself and this Someone I'm Interested In, with all kinds of intriguing affinities cropping up. We had far more than the usual chance coincidences of experience -- we were discovering a truly surprising number of shared likes and dislikes, and had been from the get.
Though we were only a couple of weeks into this... deliciously ambiguous whatever it was, we'd yet to hit a snag. It was becoming a subtle game by now, this casual testing of sensibilities, the "you're into...? that's amazing, so am I" of it all. So on an evening when I accompanied this special Someone to a female friend's apartment on an errand prior to a night out, and I noticed a huge framed movie poster there, it seemed only natural to play another round of Are We Two As One?
I indicated the poster to... let's call her She, and asked, "So where do you stand on this?" And for the first time since we'd started going out, She hesitated to answer. "I'm afraid to tell you," she admitted.
The air was suddenly tingly with a peculiar kind of tension. Because people are funny about the movies they love or hate -- not so funny, actually, in that passions can run so high on this particular turf that even the best of friends and closest of lovers can suddenly find themselves on opposite sides of an un-breachable chasm.
It's amazing, really, how strongly we can identify with a given movie. A movie you love enough to have seen countless times, quote from, reference time and again can become a part of your very personality; someone telling you they hate your beloved movie can feel as personally affronting as someone telling you they hate your hair -- worse, actually, because hair can be dyed, but true movie love never dies.
Conversely, what if a movie you've always reviled, that you loathe so completely that anyone who embraces it is branded a hopeless cretin in your eyes, turns out to be your prospective lover's passionate fave? She and I exchanged a look of genuine alarm, realizing that it had come to this at last: we might have hit a Deal-breaker.
As it happens, She and I have a pact, an agreement between us, that insists on honesty above all. So she was duty-bound to own up to the fact that she loved Moulin Rouge!... a movie that drove me so nuts when I saw it that I walked out on it, about forty minutes in.
Cliches are based in truth, and so I repeat: there is no accounting for taste. You say potato, and I say I'd rather suffer pepper-spray in my eyes than watch Nicole Kidman lip-synch an Elton John song.
I have nothing against Elton John. I don't much care for Nicole, who will always seem ice cold at the core to me no matter how hot she tries to play, but I hasten to add that I loved Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet (and liked Strictly Ballroom well enough) and as a fan of musical theater who's more than happy to see the cinematic form of same revived, I'll even say I appreciate the idea of Moulin Rouge! in the abstract. But I'd reviled everything about the movie itself (the third of it I could stand to see), from its overblown soundtrack down to the superfluous exclamation point in its title. And I confessed this, then and there.
She had loved it, but not, thank goodness, without a frisson of chagrin -- it was clearly a kind of Guilty Pleasure for her, and bless her heart, she allowed that every straight man she knew hated this movie, while every woman she knew adored it, giving us both an out to work with. We went over all of the tricky details (our shared reverence for the Baz Romeo was helpful, as was her admission that yes, women had something a lot more substantively sexy to look at in Ewan McGregor than men had in Kidman), we discussed how much was subjective when it came to the appeal of wretchedly excessive romanticism -- I am, after all, the one guy on my block who loved the ice-skating duet between Naomi Watts and the ape in the recent King Kong -- and we emerged none the worse for wear.
(I'll note that our must-be-honest policy was the best route to go, because we've thus avoided that possible ugly break-up moment where she'd fling in my face, "I should've known from the moment you pretended to like Moulin Rouge! that you were an untrustworthy asshole!")
Though it was a kind of close call. I don't honestly believe that She and I are headed for any other cinematic Waterloos -- it would take more than Nicole's soulless warble to come between me and She um, consummating our desire -- but these things happen. Last year, for example, Crash was a movie that lived up to its title in impact, wrecking many a seeming kinship, and I'll wager there are a number of other films that could strike a fledgling romance a mortal blow.
I've fessed up here to being turned off by the book an otherwise attractive woman was reading (as well as being alternately attracted by a book in the hands of same) and resisting the seductive wiles of a woman who worked for a bigwig in the wrong political party. So now I turn it over to the blogosphere: what movie -- if loved/hated by your object of affection -- would serve as a romantic Deal-breaker for you?