Introducing the return of And You Call Yourself a Film Buff…! This series was started a couple of years ago by a former PFS intern in response to repeatedly hearing “You’ve never seen this movie?! And you call yourself a film buff!” In an effort to rectify the situation, we are scouring ‘best movies’ lists everywhere and watching the essentials. If you have also recently seen some previously overlooked must-sees, let us know what you think! If you are a seasoned cinephile, who’s seen these films time and time again, let us know your thoughts versus our newbie reflections!
Come to Laugh, Come to Cry, Come to Care, Come to Terms.
I don’t know how I did it. I must have tuned into Lifetime at all the wrong times. I must have clicked off Mother’s Day Movie Marathons right after Mamma Mia. However it happened, I went twenty-two years without ever having seen Terms of Endearment. So I found it on Netflix, I watched it and, after wiping away the river of tears on my cheeks, thought it would be the perfect movie with which to reboot the And You Call Yourself a Film Buff… series.
In case you have been as cinematically negligent as I have, Terms of Endearment was the 1984 Best Picture Winner starring Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, and Jack Nicholson. It is the archetypal depiction of a loving, yet often rocky mother-daughter relationship and spans decades as Emma (Winger) get married, moves, and has children, and Aurora (MacLaine) staves off suitor after suitor and eventually falls for the rambunctious astronaut next door (Nicholson). Both MacLaine and Nicholson won Oscars for their performances, as did James L. Brooks for his screenplay and direction.
I was very pleasantly surprised with this film. I knew it was going to be good, but I was afraid it would have an overabundance of sappiness. Instead what I got was the film about two smart, spunky women trying to be happy. In Terms of Endearment, you watch characters who are all in very different stages of life, veering off in different directions and carving out lives for themselves. Emma, young kids in tow, follows her husband Flip (Jeff Daniels) to Iowa, then Nebraska. Her friend Patsy clearly joins the jet set and moves to LA then New York City, while Aurora stays in Texas and eventually gets a new lease on life when she begins dating Garrett (Nicholson). As a recent college graduate, I can identify with characters whose lives are falling into place piece by piece, whether it be through planning, happenstance or misstep. I would imagine, however, that women at any age would find the similar commonalities between themselves and the characters. This is why Terms of Endearment is so well made and beloved.
This film is about women growing into themselves, but it is first and foremost about a mother and a daughter. When the movie opens, Emma is a baby in her crib. Aurora, a worrying new mother, goes in to check on her, fears that she isn’t breathing and begins to panic. To make sure that her pride and joy hasn’t died in her sleep, Aurora pinches the baby and then walks out, satisfied as Emma cries loudly. It is the perfect introduction to their relationship – mother loving her daughter so much she sometimes hurts her child. From there, the film explores the intense and complicated relationship between Aurora and Emma.
The path that Aurora and Emma’s relationship takes follows that of mothers and daughters throughout time. In the beginning, they clash repeatedly, most markedly when Aurora refuses to attend her daughter’s wedding. As they age, however, the two become unbelievable close, talking every day after Emma moves out of Texas. There are still a steady number of bumps along the way, but the relationship perseveres. No mother or daughter can watch this film without seeing a little piece of themselves reflected in it, which is why it is simultaneously so comforting and so heartbreaking.
It’s no wonder this film has stuck around so long. Terms of Endearment is definitely going on my list of recommendations…if I can find someone else who hasn’t seen yet.
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