Part of how we respond to movies is the personal connection we have to them. It’s easier to relate to a story and characters if they’re believable, based in reality, and similar to aspects in your own life. Sometimes a movie can perfectly portray part of your life or something about you and that is so powerful to watch and enjoy. I for example am just like Jordan Belfort in The Wolf Of Wall Street. Just kidding, I’m nothing like him at all, nor would I want to be anything like him. He’s ambitious for sure but not an idol. If I were to go general, I tend to relate most to coming of age stories because I’m at that stage of becoming a full adult and can reflect on the bulk of my childhood as a recent memory. I see who I was, who I am now, and think about who I will be.
I still haven’t seen a movie with a character that IS me. Most of the time I can put myself in a character’s shoes or relate to their arc, but nothing that has shown me childhood as a whole. And how could it? That’s two decades of life. If a movie so close to my life was made it would either be my favorite movie ever or I would freak out because someone’s been stalking me all my life or my parents somehow became filmmakers.
The closest thing I’ve ever seen to a character essentially portraying me is Duncan from The Way Way Back. Like I said, the events from this movie didn’t happen to me but the character of Duncan is so similar to me it’s eery. It’s also hard to watch sometimes. I used to be incredibly awkward and anti-social and it sucks. I’ve succeeded in becoming more confident in communication and I still remember many awkward encounters I’ve had. This movie and Liam James’ performance was so realistic and I saw so much of myself in him. I’m not proud of this, however I am proud that I’ve overcame these problems. His character is written brilliantly, with lots of heart, and is developed so well. The supporting cast brings the movie as a whole to a new level as well. Sam Rockwell and Alison Janney are HILARIOUS but also contribute to the story in a meaningful way. I had such a strong, immediate reaction that moved me in this movie that no other has so closely channeled me.
I’m seeing a pattern here. The next character and movie that is a lot like me is William Miller from Almost Famous. Duncan and William are similar in many ways. William isn’t as much shy as he is young and anti-social because he acts more mature than most people his age. He already seems to know what he wants to do with his life while he’s hardly hit adolescence, which is write articles about music. I would never have been able to just walk up to a reasonably well known band and try to interview them. Through his journey with the band, Stillwater, he goes through lots of new relationships at a very impressionable time in his life. He at times is very much like me but is also who I wish I was. Plus the movie as a whole just connects with me so much. A coming of age story with a classic rock undertone hits it right on the spot. I am a huge classic rock fan and love how much references there are to it and the music in it is amazing. If I had to choose a movie to grow up in, it would be this one. Cameron Crowe could write the story of my life.
Boyhood is a movie just recently made, that by invention is supposed to be relatable, which is does well and why itis so successful. It’s not supposed be a movie that documents your life, it’s a movie that in some ways will make you look back on your childhood and relive it through a character. It’s made up of the little insignificant moments that all add up to who you are today. The scenes I connected to most with this film were the shared custody between mother and father, and going off to college. These were the most significant to me because they generalize pretty much everything I went through, and Richard Linklater portrayed that very realistically and also enjoyable. I am only in my second year of college, so all that stuff about applying for schools and figuring out what you want to do in life in the movie was stuff I just went through and connected with me.
The last movie I’ll mention is a bit of a joke, but here me out, I do have similarities to this character. That of whom being Patrick Bateman from American Psycho. Right off the bat, I’m am not a murderer, nor have I ever considered being one. However, Patrick Bateman does narrate his life as a sociopath and has certain urges towards other people, and I can relate to this. I am in my head a lot. I am always thinking about something whether or not it is relevant to what I’m doing. Internalizing my thoughts makes me relate to Bateman a little. I also don’t exactly express my feelings that often, or as much as I probably should. Now whether or not you think Bateman actually did what he did in the film, he has very strong opinions about the people around him that irk him. I certainly do this too, so does everyone else although to a lesser extent. What separates us from him is that he’s determined to kill off or harm those people he despises. Take one of my favorite scenes where Paul Allen has a superior business card to Bateman’s and he obsessives over it. He hates that he has been beat, is jealous and that bothers him. Something like that could bother me to but I’m not going to kill anyone over it.
There are the movies that define me. There are surely more (and don’t call me Shirley) but these are the ones that do the best job. With the exception of Bateman, all of the people aforementioned were younger than me in the films. I’m sure as I grow old I’ll relate more to things about people in their twenties and so on, but I’ll always have these to remember who I was. And I’ll have Cocoon to tell me who I’m going to be. Actually I like Red better.