Let's talk about Joe Black

Just recently I watched “Meet Joe Black” again. I don’t know how long it’s been since the last time, but I know it’s been at least a few years. And woah, was it different from what I remembered.

You know how they say that after you grow a certain age you start appreciating stuff you did not before? Well, it immediately rang a bell after seeing this movie again. It’s not as boring, not as cheesy and I enjoyed it in a much different way than before – but still as long as I remembered. I found it quite exquisite, to be honest. Like it was conceived to tenderly portrait the different kinds of love that exist and how they mold us. I think I smiled througout the whole thing.

It reminded me of the movies in the Jane Austen-ish gentry genre, with but brought to modern day – well, “modern”; this thing is 22 years old (!) – with is beautiful script, particularly the quote from Willian Parrish (Anthony Hopkins) when talking to his daughter Susan (Claire Forlani):

A scene from the movie with William and Susan Parrish
Scene from the movie where William talks with Susan

Love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without. If you don’t start with that, what are you going to end up with? Fall head over heels. I say find someone you can love like crazy and who’ll love you the same way back. And how do you find him? Forget your head and listen to your heart. I’m not hearing any heart. Run the risk, if you get hurt, you’ll come back. Because, the truth is there is no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love - well, you haven’t lived a life at all. You have to try. Because if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived.

As with all things romantic, these words will later be used against him and that will be the start of everything. I don’t think I should be providing a spoiler alert for a movie that’s almost as old as I am, but in case you haven’t seen it… Brad Pitt is the grim reaper. Yeah, I know!

Love, according to “Meet Joe Black”

After that good start, you’re presented with more types of love during the movie. I will try to explain them as I see them, so your interpretations may differ from mine. Also, I will invent some ridicule names for them and there’s nothing you can do to stop me. Muahaha.

  • Heartless love (Susan and Drew): It’s the smartest move, and while it’s the most logical way to proceed in life for both of them, we all can see that’s that and not much else. No magic, no feelings, no nothing. Just your good ol’ no-brainer-but-also-heartless love.
  • New born love (Susan and Young Man in Coffee Shop): This scene has everything: confusion, denial, flirt, changes of heart, you name it. It’s the kind of love that makes you smile like silly, because you know that’s when it happens… They fall in love. It’s a new love born in the moment between the two characters in the scene. Also, yeah, that’s his name according to the movie credits.
  • Mature and magical love (Allison and Quince): You know these two have something special the moment they appear together in a scene. They’re grown ups and the behave like that, all mature and mighty. But when Allison start to cry because of the cake incident, Quince immediately starts to provide her with love, as some kind of reflex. And when Joe ask Quince if Allison loves him, he immediately breaks because he knows she does and how much. Isn’t this kind of love the ultimate goal?
  • Mysterious love (Susan and Joe): Oh, yes. This twisted and sick bastard. Why do we like to do this to ourselves? I bet it has happened to you, too. You like someone even if you don’t know anything about them and they’re certainly not providing any more answers than necessary. We know it’s meant to fail because when someone doesn’t know how deep in sh*t you’re they can’t love you completely.
  • Discharged middle child syndrome (Allison and William): You know Allison is constantly ignored by her father but it doesn’t seem to upset her as much as one would think it should, right? That’s because she’s been living with it all her life and she’s through with it. She’s gone through therapy and it’s now a thing she embraces and by the end of the movie she let her dad know: “I’ve felt loved, and that’s all that matters. So, never mind favorites. You’re allowed to have one. The point is, you’ve been mine”, she tells him.
  • Comradery love (Quince, Joe and Bill): Guys are allowed to love each other, too. Whether we want to accept it or not. By the end of the movie the trio are all friends and seem to trust each other as if was a second nature. Maybe it is? We just need to find the right guys.

The last and most important kind of love

Before the movie ends and William Parrish meets his end, he’s called to the stage and gives what I now consider a goal in life: A speech about being satisfied with life. The ultimate declaration of self love.

What a glorious night.
Every face I see is a memory.
It may not be a perfectly perfect memory.
Sometimes we had our ups and downs.
But we’re all together and you’re mine for a night.
And I’m going to break precedent and tell you my one-candle wish:
That you would have a life as lucky as mine,
where you can wake up one morning and say,
“I don’t want anything more.”
…Sixty-five years.
Don’t they go by in a blink….

And that’s it…

From my perspective. I hope you liked this little dumb analysis on different kinds of love I noticed in this classic. I think seeing this now that I’m older really opened my eyes to things I wouldn’t have noticed when I was younger. Still, and I know this may seem insensible, but the scene when they kill Young Man in Coffee Shop cracks me up. Exaggerated as it is, I think it’s portrayed like that to show the irony of not doing what you have to do before Death gets you.

Let me know if you have anything you want to share about this great but lenghty movie, I’m all yours at @scaarg. C’mon, let’s talk about Joe Black.

We’ll be reading each other soon.

Escrito en Septiembre 21, 2020