Some days, I wonder why I love Practical Magic. Every other day of the year, I re-watch it and I wonder why anyone would fail to love it.
I watch this movie regularly, ever since it came it out. Which means I’ve probably seen it about a dozen times by now. And the little bastard still makes me cry, just about every dang time.
I used to blame it on my own strong relationship with my sisters, and my predilection for all things witchy and Halloweeny. Plus, Aidan Quinn. And Euro-Clooney. It’s hard to beat all that. Throw in Dianne Wiest, Stockard Channing, and a kick-ass nineties soundtrack, and yeah, of course it’s awesome.
Still, enough people have questioned my sanity on this (20% on Rotten Tomatoes; that’s lower than both Your Highness, SuckerPunch, and every single one of the Final Destination movies) that I felt I had to examine my affection after watching it yet again tonight. I turned it on to fall asleep to… then it wouldn’t let me sleep.
Oh yeah. So I deconstructed it. Not a feminist deconstruction, because that would probably make me a little ill, and pretty mad at myself for falling for it. Personal deconstruction, then, and plot deconstruction.
I took a closer look at the moments that whack me in the gut. It does, by the way, help if I’m really tired and a little bit emotionally unstable when I watch this movie. Invariably, these gut-punchers rotate around Sandra’s relationships. Her and Aidan’s first kiss. When he turns away, could it be forever? Oh, the pathos. A moment when she’s lying nose-to-nose with her sister, in tears. There are an awkwardly high number of those scenes in the movie, and yet they still get me.
What makes these moments satisfying? It’s not the writing. Or the direction. Or even the acting (I love you Sandra, but it’s not). It’s the completeness. The yin/yang of the circle coming together. Western lawman meets Eastern pagan woman. Sister of Chaos clasps hands with Sister of Order.
It’s a pretty darn satisfying plot device. It’s not the ‘unfinished chord’ that a certain awesome someone was talking about at RWA today, that lingering note that an author refuses to tie off simply in order to tantalize her audience. The story may not prey on your mind and captivate you (in fact, in this case, I can pretty much guarantee that it won’t), but it soothes. Like comfort food for the over-stimulated mind. Like eating a lunchables box for dinner, complete with the Caprisun Cooler. Apparently I needed soothing tonight.
I value the fact that I am a complete person, in and of myself. I’m kinda my own yin and yang; I used to describe myself as glitter lipgloss and steel-toe boots. I’ve always wanted another complete person as a partner; I never wanted anyone to ‘complete’ me. And I still don’t. I recognize real life from cunningly (if not expertly) crafted fiction.*
And yet, there are these tired, late night moments. It doesn’t help when I think about the wonderful couples around me. They all seem to be perfectly balanced complements to each other. Two of my best friends make a couple that I tend to refer to as the pocket vegans, or just ‘the girls,’ in a simple homogenizing way, even though they are actually as yin and yang as you get.
In the morning, these simplistic generalizations will be revealed for the complex realities they actually are. I’ll remember the fact that these couples share world outlooks and amazingly kind hearts, and other similarities that are much more important than their differences. But right now, I think I’ll go to sleep wondering about my yang.
*totally, totally not talking about Hoffman’s book – just the movie.