Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 97: Mad Love (1995)


PG-13, 1 hr. 45 min.  Directed by: Antonia Bird.  Release Date: May 26, 1995.  DVD Release Date: January 18, 2000. 

This movie always reminds me of the 90s.  Not the crap 90s, as the decade started to merge into the grossness of the early 00s, but the 90s at its very heart, when the decade was still riding the golden wave of decadence started in the 80s.  The days when the entire American youth culture stemmed from the Pacific Northwest, back when everyone wore “flannels” and black combat boots, when Kurt Cobain was still alive and redefining the way we thought about music and life, and before the American people started to get that jaded edge on their innocence.  But the real 90s clue for me is in the cast:  Chris O’Donnell, Matthew Lillard, and Live Schrieber… none of whom seemed to survive Y2K unscathed, but who were at the height of their popularity here.  It was also nice to notice that the guys with big hair and bigger foreheads didn’t sparkle in the sunlight.

Mad Love reminds me what it was like to still be young.  Well, younger.  I’m not quite putting a foot in the grave yet, even though it sometimes feels like I should be.  I remember what it was to feel that kind of passion and to take risks even when those risks weren’t in my best interest, I remember what it was like to put my brain on the shelf and just act.  No worries about the consequences, because I could handle those.  I’ve had this on DVD for a long time, maybe since the original release in 2000, but I’m not sure that I’ve watched it since I bought it.  It was weird watching it now, when I could sympathize with the plight of Matt and Casey, but now have enough life experience to realize how ill-fated this young couple really was.  

What surprised me so many years later was how much I still like this movie.  Is it realistic?  Nope.  Do any of these people make a good decision… ever?  Nope.  Does the soundtrack rock?  Yeah, it kind of does, and I’m proud to say that I can find it deep in the bowels of my car inside my CD wallet and the remnants of my non-electric music collection.  Does the movie have some problems?  Yes.  Particularly, the discussion of mental illness and the portrayal of depression, which I find to be suffering from a lack of research and an abundance of belief in stereotyping.

I know a thing or two about depression.  I know some of you are sitting in front of a computer monitor doing the Home Alone face slap thing, but I do.  Drew Barrymore’s character suffers from clinical depression… but has mood swings.  Unless you have dysthymia, most clinical depressives don’t have mood swings so much as long or permanent periods of low.  I didn’t like how we watch Casey go into this mood spiral that results in multiple crimes, a badly done suicide attempt, and an even more badly done, half-hearted attempt at homicide.  The movie really falls apart in the last 25 minutes or so, because of its treatment of the mental health issues in it, but I have to admit that I laugh at the final goodbye, when Matt’s tears are trickling down his cheeks and he wipes his nose surreptitiously on his lady love's shirt collar.

Awesome.  That’s good drama.  Next time I'm getting cuddly with a woman and it's getting emotional, I'll have to remember that trick.