Wild Young Minds: The Way We Were

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Way We Were

''Your girl is lovely, Hubble''. If the first thing this quote makes you think of, is Sex & the City, you're one of the many people who hasn't seen 'The Way We Were' yet. Such a shame. 'The Way We Were' is a 1973 romantic drama, starring Barbra Streisand and Paul Newman. Yes, romantic and Barbra Streisand are both things that I always thought would make me nauseous rather than inspired, but wonders will never cease. Maybe it's because I have a weak-spot for stories about passionate lovers who don't get each other in the end. Or maybe it's because Barbra Streisand and Paul Newman sparks were flying all over the screen. Fact is that 'The Way We Were' is one of few romantic films you just need to see.

The film, which is directed by Sydney Pollack, is about Katie Morosky (Streisand) and Hubbell Gardiner (Redford). They go to the same high school but there's a day and night difference between them. Katie is an idealist, quite radical Marxist Jew who protests strongly against the war. Whereas Hubble is a loose, lighthearted WASP whose friends keep making fun of Katie. Yet there's one thing about Hubble, next to his extremely good looks, that attracts Katie: he's a fantastic writer and he doesn't seem to do that much effort for it. At the same time, Hubbell finds Katie's strong belief and ambition intruiging. Unfortunately, this is not one of those high school sweathearts stories, since they lose contact after graduation and lead separate lives.

After the Second World War, they meet again in a bar. Hubbell is just back from his work as an officer in the South Pacific and tries to adjust to normal life again. Katie is working at a radio station and still very determined to make a social change. They still have feelings for each other and now really fall in love. May sound like the usual simple love story, but, as you may have expected, it isn't. Their differences aren't that easy waved aside, because Katie can't seem to feel comfortable around Hubbell's friends. They keep making jokes about political subjects, like the death of Roosevelt, and Katie is disgusted about their insensitivity.

They break up and fall in love again (sorry to sound so brief, but that's mostly what it's like) and finally deside to move to California. They do so because Hubbell is looking for a job as Hollywood screenwriter. He becomes quite succesful in this, despite Katie's frustration about the shallowness of this job. On the other hand does Hubbell's job affort them to live a luxuruous life style (imagine drinking wine and eating fish in a beach house), so it all seems to work out fine. Until McCarthyism comes up - the period of anti-communist announcements - and Katie and Hubbell are put on the Hollywood blacklist. The differences start to form a problem again, as Katie's political activism grows and Hubbell's position as writer for sitcomes is in danger. Will their love survive?

No, it won't. I feel allowed to say this, since I already told you I have a weak-spot for love stories with a tragic ending. And the title gives away most of it as well, of course. Hubbell and Katie beautifully demonstrate the way they were, which is passionate, powerful and perfect as a pair. Though their differences tore them apart eventually, it was also their differences which made the whole thing so intruiging to look at. I always found Barbra Streisand very dramatical and annoying, but it turned out my feelings were prejudices. She's amazing as the idealistic Katie; she's funny, sharp and quite charming. Robert Redford reminds me a lot of Brad Pitt. That typical handsome, rich guy, who makes you believe he's born with it, but who actually has more to offer than just good looks. Redford is enchanting in this film. We want Katie to have him, but we want to have him ourselves even more.

The story may be a bit predictable, but aren't all romantic films? I know, I know, this is not a way of making it up, but 'The Way We Were' is so captivating, that it makes no difference. The acting work is of high quality and the two lovers just match, which makes the film very realistic. No inconvenient feelings, no moments of dreadfulness, no nothing. 'The Way We Were' is a romantic film the way it should be.

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