Alright, I know it’s weird that I’m reviewing this movie for my anti-work site but hear me out.
It’s number 9 (Chef was number 10) of the Top 10 Movies That Will Make You Want to Quit your Job by WatchMojo so I decided to check it out and see how true that was.
Granted, I’m unemployed, so there was a bit of a heavy side-constraint on testing this theory.
But you know, let’s imagine I had a job. Would this make me want to quit it…any more than I would already want to?
Maybe in a certain way, yeah.
The main premise of the film (it’s not very complicated) is that an American tourist (Ethan hawke) meets this Parisian woman (Julie Delpy) on a train and begin having lovely conversations with each other. They fall in love and have to decide if they’re ever going to see each other again and so on and so forth.
It’s a quaint set up and man does it turn it up to 11 with the cheese-ball, but damn is it good.
You may notice that the director is something of a familiar character to this website: Richard Linklater.
That’s because I review his film Slacker a while back as well!
Now, Slacker obviously had a lot more to do with jobs and work (though not as much as the title may have suggested) but was similar in how it played with time Linklater plays with time a lot in his films whether it’s his popular film Boyhood, Slacker (which is made up of vignettes at different times) or the Before trilogy.
Yes, there are two other films but the WatchMojo list only specified this one, so I’m going to stick with this one movie. So if you really don’t like me giving space and time to a rom-com then don’t worry, this likely won’t happen again.
The movie actually contains a good amount of social commentary and even some explicitly political commentary, i.e. how things that have existed should naturally be rebelled against, that the media is trying to control people and it’s a “new type of fascism” and so on. But these moments are often brief and never really driven home in any meaningful way.
Still, at its heart it’s a romantic-comedy, not a political film and so it’s to be expected that even when Hawke’s character points out how “labor saving” technology is supposed to be yet we just waste it instead, it’s just another small blip in an otherwise mostly non-work related movie. The anti-work aspect of the movie is, I suppose, its premise.
I think most of the “wanting to quit your job” for WatchMojo was the thrill of adventure and seeking a place to visit and explore, instead of staying in a job you (presumably) don’t like. But this movie didn’t really convince me to visit Vienna (that’s where the movie is set in). It convinced me to quit any job I had to be able to have the sort of experiences that the characters end up happening but what they have has very little to do with the location and more to do with themselves.
If there is an ultimate goal for a romantic comedy it’s like to make the audience want to fall in love with someone.
And yeah, I’m a sucker for romance and emotional stuff, so I suppose I’m not the hardest person to crack on that front. But still, this movie 100% convinced me that falling in love and being in love can be a great experience. That they can make us do crazy, reckless and perhaps even totally pointless things, just so we can feel loved.
When you are working, do you feel loved? I’m being serious, does your job make you feel like you are in a loving and helpful environment to your mental health? Most people I know don’t. Maybe you use your job as a tool to overcome an anxiety of yours or perhaps you are using it to meet people or maybe you are using it to get away from your home life.
But if whatever you are doing the most in a given week isn’t making you feel loved or appreciated, then there’s probably something wrong with dedicating so much of your time to it. Not in a moral sense but in a mental health sense.
And to be clear, I’m not saying we should all feel loved all of the time. Of course it’s good to feel a diversity of emotions and being in love certainly isn’t king amongst. I honestly envy a-romantic folks who are able to basically treat everyone like their best friend and not get emotionally attached as I typically do to people.
So the movie more or less convinced me that in order to abolish work, or to at least to make our lives with work more bearable, it may be a good idea to have us spend our time more around people and activities we love. But that’s not exactly a stunning revelation is it? And I suppose it’s not, but the movie made that point in very beautiful and organic ways. Like I said, the movie itself isn’t very complex but to add to that, the execution is still very much on point.
Would I recommend this to anti-work folks?;
I don’t know, to be honest. It’s a great film that’s more than competently written and directed as well as acted and there certainly wouldn’t be much bad about seeing the film. On the other hand, if you already feel the sorts of impulses I’m talking about getting from this movie then it’s probably not altogether necessary to see either.
I mean, unless you want to have those impulses but much stronger and coming from a fairly robust source. And that would be totally understandable I think for anyone to want to feel, especially for those of us who are single and interested in romantic experiences but find trouble with them for one way or another.
And hey, you know what’s a great way to increase our abilities to experience romance? Abolish work.
Ideally, we’d all have the sorts of lives that are reflected in Before Sunrise, but it wouldn’t be for vacation.
It’d be life itself.
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