When we think of romance films, we imagine poetic lines and grand gestures—the handsome jock braving the rain to follow the girl of his dreams and profess his undying love in front of a huge crowd. This picture is not an accurate depiction of love in the mundane routine of our daily lives.
I recently watched the Filipino movies Tayo Sa Huling Buwan Ng Taon (Us, At The End Of The Year) and Sleepless on Netflix. The first movie is about former lovers who cross paths at a chance encounter five years after their break-up. They try to foster a friendship amidst their new lives and new relationships, but instead their unresolved issues resurface. The second is about two co-workers who both have insomnia. They start keeping each other company on nights they cannot fall asleep, and eventually end up helping each other to solve their own personal struggles. Although the movies have very different plots, they both highlight the power of quiet and everyday conversations.
These movies follow the same vein as the 90’s classic Before Sunrise, showcasing the characters’ conversations in their organic forms, without grandeur and embellishments. They focus on the small movements and prosaic dialogues—ones that we encounter daily in our relationships and social interactions. By getting a glimpse of the quiet and unfiltered, we relate better to the intricacies and emotions of human interactions. We feel the hurt from the stolen glances; the excitement from the nervous smiles; and the regret from hushed cries.
That is how reality looks like.
Unlike in our lives, mainstream media commonly portrays relationships as experiencing either the highest of highs or the lowest or lows. There are no unexciting in-betweens and complicated gray areas. Each character’s traits are true to their stereotypes and not complexed by other factors. In reality, however, personalities and relationships are much more intricate and multi-dimensional. The leading man can also be the villain, and the leading lady can also be emotionally unstable. One can be in a perfectly happy relationship, but also have unresolved issues with a person from his past. Dialogues in the real world do not always consist of Shakespearean-like lyricism, but are often composed of imperfect sentences, insignificant actions, and routine silences.
Although I am a hopeless romantic at heart, I enjoyed both films. I find myself relating more to the characters as the plot lines are very much grounded on reality. Both Tayo Sa Huling Buwan ng Taon and Sleepless excel in capturing the seemingly uninteresting details of our daily lives while perfectly painting for the audience the complexities and deeply rooted emotions of each person involved. The stories’ progress and messages are precisely conveyed through the quiet conversations and body languages. After all, there is beauty in restraint, emotions in the stares, and truth in one’s choice of words. It is up to us to find beauty in the simplest of things, and love in the everyday quiet and mundane.