If you have seen the movie, Friends with Money, you probably remember the scene where Frances McDormand’s character, Jane, has a meltdown at this couple who have cut in the line at Old Navy. I’ve posted it here if you haven’t seen it: it’s perfect. In fact, I highly suggest watching all of Nicole Holofcener’s movies, she’s my favorite director. (More on her later.) There are many things that I love about this scene and this character, she’s so self-righteous and funny and sensitive. She’s a crusader for integrity but her mission has made her crazy. When you watch the scene, you see that her actions affect everyone around her, but most of all, her actions affect her. She’s taken this moral high ground, but it’s taken a toll on her soul.
I’ve certainly written about such themes before, specifically here. Every day I feel like behaving the way Jane behaves. I’ve talked about how crazy it makes me when people run the stop signs while I’m walking my dogs. I yell to them, “Hey, you missed your stop sign.” And then even louder, “JUST SO YOU KNOW, THERE ARE A LOT OF SMALL CHILDREN THAT LIVE IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD!!” Sometimes, they flip me off, sometimes, they don’t even notice. Most of them are too busy rushing to their game at the Tennis club. And as they drive off, completely unfazed, my heart is always racing and I’m so filled with fury that people don’t think the laws of the land apply to them. All of this self-righteousness is taking its toll on me.
The thing about the scene in the movie, is we see that there is something deeper going on than outrage at people cutting in line at a checkout lane. It’s a depression. She is a woman looking at her life, grieving for lost youth, burdened by inadequacies and that feeling that her life has not amounted to all that she’d hoped it would be. And most of us can relate to at least a smidge of that, maybe even more than a smidge.
I’ll end on an upbeat note, though. A couple of years ago, I was at West Elm with my friend Carrie. I saw a woman who looked familiar, in fact she looked like Nicole Holofcener. Carrie and I had been to happy hour at Border Grill a few doors down and emboldened with margarita courage, I went over to her and asked if, by chance, she was a director. I did not say her name, because to this day, I do not know how to pronounce her last name. She told me she WAS a director and I told her that I was her biggest fan. I told her that we had had parrallel lives because her Walking and Talking reminded me of my life when I lived in New York and that Lovely and Amazing and Friends with Money rang true to my life in Los Angeles. I said that the scene in Lovely and Amazing at the McDonald’s between Catherine Keener and Raven Goodwin is my favorite movie scene ever. I’ve included it here, too. Anyway, she was very gracious, even if Carrie was standing by the pillows mouthing the words, “You’re crazy,” over and over. I told her I would love to work with her in any capacity and even went so far as to write my name and phone number on a slip of paper and give it to her. She told me, “You never know, you might hear from me.” It’s been a while now, that slip of paper has probably long been thrown away. It was an exciting moment though, I actually felt like a character in one of her movies. And every once in a while, when my phone rings and I don’t recognize the number, I think, maybe it’s my future friend Nicole, because, well, you never know…