By now, most have heard about the September-September romance that just appeared in theaters about a divorced couple that tests the water 10 years after their divorce. Why go to all of that 100 minutes of extra trouble without a happy ending? The happy ending in this case being the poor baby-boomer husband who realized the error of his ways gets a second chance and the husband and wife who set out to spend their entire lives together, actually do, even if they had a little detour along the way. Well, this movie was apparently not made for a happy ending, but perhaps more of a Gloria Gaynor-esque vindication for all middle-aged divorcees. Jane’s ex-husband Jake wants to come back after divorcing his wife of 25 years and marrying a woman half his age who happens to be a shrew who sends him to the fertility clinic every other day. In most cases, you wouldn’t jump to such a man’s defense because it’s the oldest cliche in the book, but I actually felt sorry for the guy. He seems to be going through hell and his affections for the mother of his 3 grown children seemed sincere. It seemed like something genuinely clicked in his character’s discovery (or Joseph Campbell-type heroe’s journey where he returns home.) It was easy to root for him – even over Steve Martin’s good guy architect character; especially over him.
In real life what most men don’t realize is that they only have a very small window of opportunity when it comes to screwing up and/or coming back, and once that window’s gone, well then, boom it’s gone. Women on the other hand process things much more quickly – so most of the time she’s in the relationship annoyed by adolescent careless behavior, she’s processing him out already. By the time he has physically removed himself from her space her fortress walls are sky high. He (or at least his ego) imagines that he can come back at any time and she will be jumping for joy or take just a bit of coaxing, some flowers or jewelry to open the gates of forgiveness again. That’s usually not how it plays out. After the cold water is splashed on him (in this case his miserable life with Agnes the 30-something), that is when he’s actually ready to start working, but his ex-wife’s threshhold was passed long ago. This begs the question, since women seem to be so far ahead of men in processing break-ups, divorces and love crimes, maybe men should be dating adolescents when they have finally graduated beyond their own by learning from their own mishaps.
Regardless, I still really wanted Jane (Meryl Streep) and Jake (Alec Baldwin) to get together. She seemed so receptive to their ‘affair’ that I thought I had left the theater during the part when she came to the conclusion they didn’t belong together. That’s the problem, the audience wasn’t brought along for that ride. One scene she seemed open and the next scene “it’s not going to work.” Whatever. After I sat in the theater for 2 hours and witnessed the hero’s journey, I expected a neat, heartwarming holiday ending. Throw me a bone, please. I guess the lesson here is that while she may have had some gratification in her misguided husband sincerely feeling regret, falling in love and making amends, it’s not always that neat and easy. The lesson being, when you’re following the call of your little friend, make sure it’s a decision that you could potentially live with permanently, because you may not be guaranteed another chance. Not even in Hollywood.