Friday, November 12, 2010
Getting the Romance Right
by Pamela Palmer
***And the winners are: Marie, Melanie, and Stephanie
Please email me at: pamela @ pamelapalmer.net (no spaces)
Thanks for all the great comments!
I'm a romance addict, I admit it. So it frustrates me when writers, or Hollywood, get the romance wrong. Of course, what I consider 'wrong' might strike you as perfectly right and vice versa, but that's the nature of art. That said...
One of the t.v. shows I've been watching (and otherwise enjoying) has two characters who are supposedly intimate, supposedly in love. They're regularly shown in bed together on their backs, both looking up at the ceiling with the sheet up to their armpits. Not touching. Not looking at each other. When they're shown together in other scenes, their body language screams 'Never even kissed!' Even in the big emotional scenes between them they act like awkward strangers. No way can I believe these two have been in an intimate relationship, let alone that they love one another. I get that in the story maybe they don't want to flaunt their relationship, but it's not a secret. And an intimacy like that, especially if there are real feelings involved, is going to show.
How? In soft glances or hungry looks. In touches that are so natural between them they might not even be aware of them. The slide of his hand along the nape of her neck. The stroke of his back as she passes him. Tenderness. Awareness. And when the loved one is in danger or hurt, that tenderness ratchets high, along with fear and concern that can't be entirely hidden no matter how hard he or she tries. It bleeds through. You see it. you feel it.
Or you should.
Sometimes Hollywood does get it right. Vampire Diaries is a good example. It's easy to believe that Stephen and Elena are in love, or at least that they think they're in love. But the one I truly adore is Damon. Because he loves Elena, too, and I knew it long before he admitted it. I see it in the way he looks at her, in the things he says, in the things he does. He's a dark, deadly vampire, yet he loves this girl and it's changing him.
Sometimes the words and actions are right, but there's no chemistry between the actors. Most romantic comedies don't work for me because they're designed too much for the laughs, not the emotion. Two that did work: 10 Things I Hate About You and How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days. (Ha. A couple of perfect tens.)
Dramas where I've loved the romance: Ever After with Drew Barrymore. Avatar. Underworld. Speed. There's a brilliantly romantic moment at the end of Speed (Spoiler Alert!) when they're on a runaway train, she's chained up, and though he tries and tries to free her, he can't. But he can still escape. She tells him to go. He gives her one of those to-die-for looks and slowly wraps his arms around her instead, pulling her close, making it clear he's not going anywhere without her. THAT'S romance.
Did you ever see the kiss between Lancelot and Guinevere (Richard Gere and Julia Ormond) in the movie First Knight? My t.v. screen was smoking. Can I believe those two have a thing for one another? Oh, yeah.
Real romance requires chemistry. And tenderness. And often sacrifice. It requires understanding one another, really getting him/her on a soul-deep level. Seeing the other as they truly are and loving them anyway. It's a look, a touch, a hesitation, a gleam in the eye. A hunger. It's nuance and passion, and when it's done right, it's powerful and moving and wonderful.
So, what movie or t.v. show has the best romance, in your opinion? I'm giving away three signed copies of my latest Feral Warriors novel, Rapture Untamed, so please share! I'm always hungry for another great screen romance.
Posted at 4:00 AM