Friends With Kids

After years of toying with the idea, I have decided to write often, about film. For a long time I struggled with the mode, tone, venue, lacking what I thought was a structured purpose for a blog. But then I thought: I love film because of its emotions. So why not just write about film and feelings? Be warned: you will find little academic theory in here, and even less film criticism. This is purely an outlet for me to write about how film makes me feel. 

As there is no “perfect film” to start with, I’ll start with one I saw this summer. Friends With Kids, a rom-dram-sometimes-com starring Jennifer Westfeldt of Kissing Jessica Stein. 

She also wrote and directed, which makes me inevitably think we are peering into her mid-30s worried mind, but so be it. She decides to have a baby with a male friend of hers while they watch their married friends struggle with both romance and kids simultaneously. The latter seems to them a surefire way to ruin a marriage, so they say, do the baby-raising together and leave the romantic excitement for other people. Um, worst idea ever, I thought at first, both for real people who, once baby in hand, realize the need to rely completely on the other to get through the sleepless nights, and also for a romantic comedy. What viewer is going to believe that two friends with no romantic connection are enough to carry a love story?

But slowly, the film got me pondering and emotionizing in a good way. Jon Hamm and Kristin Wiig’s tiresome marriage and Maya Rudolph’s heartfelt mom dance made me peer into my own life. I, and a lot of 20-somethings in my generation, are so conflicted about marriage and kids. Whether or not we want to settle down right away, we believe that family is important but that we shouldn't settle for a mediocre mate. The message of the film (well, not the obvious one, which was that maybe your best friend, if male, could end up being the love of your life) therefore seemed to be a warning against kids in first relationships (unless those relationships are sexless?). Better to hash out your immature commitments with a first spouse so that you either learn from the divorce or stick it out for the long haul, and while both have relatively happy endings, the meaty stuff in the present is going to suck. 

Similarly, like the male friend Jason in the film, I may be somewhat brainwashed by the media messages that emphasize newness and excitement over compatibility and familiarity when it comes to dating. In fact, I definitely am. And while that fades fast, I think it's almost addictive to want to hold on to newness and excitement. Ideally we would all feel excitement turn gracefully from attraction into contentment with someone who feels right. But how do we overcome this culture of instant gratification when films of our generation (and actually, of all generations), take less than two hours to tell the story of people falling in love?  

Forbrydelsen's Sofie Gråbøl