Friday, 20 May 2011

Encore’s Birthday Marathon: Day Three

This is part of the 20 day series of commentary commemorating random cinematic moments leading up to my birthday. It’s hardly an auspicious moment, but it’s as a good a reason as any for an arbitrary blogging event.
One of my sisters has this strange fixation with the number. Her birthday happens to be a 3rd of the year, so it’s probably not that weird. It’s interesting, though, because I’m part of a three sibling family and three always seems like the go-to number for cinematic families. Maybe I overstress, it’s probably not an overwhelming majority but I’m almost certain that it is the majority. The thing about siblings, on the big or small screen, though is that oftentimes the honesty of any filial bond is difficult to establish. Think of the trio of sisters in Gosford Park. I adore the film, but there’s little ostensible cinematic rapport to be found between Kristin Scott Thomas, Natasha Wightman and Geraldine Sommerville. It doesn’t destroy the film (it’s still excellent), but it’s notable.

I’ve found that the small screen is a more accurate purveyor of believable sibling relationships. There’s little about David Schwimmer and Courtney Cox in the Friends pilot that makes their relation to each other striking, but just like meeting actual siblings overtime the bond is revealed to be a strong one. Peter Krause and Michael C. Hall seem to hit it off immediately in Six Feet Under but it’s some time before Claire seems like a real part of their relationship (Krause’s current drama, Parenthood. is still trying to address chemistry issues.)

For the cinema, when I think of sibling rapport I immediately turn to Howards End – not only because of my affinity for Helena Bonham Carter and Emma Thompson but because I vicariously enjoy it as a paradigm for my own sibling situation (two older sisters). Tibby is sort of incidental to the drama in the film, which isn’t exactly regrettable (the film functions finely without him) but I love those little moments when all three are together like that first meeting with Leonard where Tibby is exasperating stolid or the first meeting with Mrs. Leonard Bast where he’s more voluble.
And if Howards End represents my sibling relationship in the Edwardian period, then It’s Complicated would be it in contemporary times. Not that I’m grossly invested in the film (and I do have a loathing for Zoe Kazan who plays the middle daughter) but the fact that the trio not only has strong chemistry but their relationship actually seems unforced despite the more obtrusive “cutesy” bits is impressive. (I always do think there’s a better movie trying to fight its way out of It’s Complicated). I couldn't only imagine the therapy my siblings would need if my parents decided to remarry - or have an affair. Yikes.
Any cinematic siblings remind you of yours?

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