February 13, 2015


On Valentine's Day, two polar-opposite movies were released: The first installment of the "50 Shades of Grey" juggernaut (my review of "50 Shades"), and a homey little film entitled "Old Fashioned," specifically targeted at correcting the twisted logic and lies of "50 Shades." "50 Shades" says "abuse is love" (abuse of women, that is). "Old Fashioned" says "true love is possible, and it doesn't look or feel like abuse."

True love, real love, is only "old fashioned" because--for sad and hairbrained reasons--very few people seem to know what it is and how to do it anymore! Rather than delve into the recent historical roots of what some are calling our "post-romance" hook-up era, let's just take a look at this sweet new film.

"Old Fashioned" starts off like a Hallmark film, plodding and saccharine. It also starts off like a "Christian" film (which always seem to have a southern/heartland feel to them), as though the only place one can truly be a Christian is, well, in the South or the heartland. Clay, a thirtysomething with meticulously messed hair and a cute corner-of-his -mouth smile is a reticent, conservative carpenter, while thirtysomething Amber is a bubbly, free-spirited drifter. Amber buzzes into town and winds up renting a room from Clay above his carpenter shop. Chemistry? Yes. But.

Clay has a problem. He's a young curmudgeon. Amber has a problem. She's a rolling stone. Little by little we learn about their checkered pasts, especially Clay's, which comes as quite a shocker. He's criticized for his extreme "theories" about love, but then we find out that he knows of what he speaks. Both Clay and Amber are hurting, but the paths of healing they've chosen aren't really paths of growth but stagnation. OK, there. I've said enough.

The second half of the film (just like "October Baby," "The Song") gets way more real. The action comes to a boiling point. Whatever masks and cloaks and shams the characters are wearing come off because there's just too much at stake.

If we believe true love is impossible because of bad experiences and doing things the wrong way, then we are saying that we are helpless victims who do not have the power to create true love. Because we live in a literal, non-transcendent age, we only believe and trust our own experiences. By "doing things wrong," then, we become our own worst witnesses. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. We don't believe in true love because we have "proved" the opposite to ourselves, often by our own bad choices. We absolutize our own experiences as if they are the only way. And if we have played games and turned love into a game? Ah. We have poisoned love before it can begin. But there's always a way out. We can always change it up. Begin again. Because it's our choice. We have the power. The world doesn't agree? Well, what has "the world" ever done for you? When has the world ever been right? Isn't it the world that led you to where you are now? The world may not agree with your new path, but it's just jealous. The universe agrees. God agrees. Free your mind. Break the chains. True love exists when you create it with "the one" who will create it with you.

Since people are waiting longer and longer to get married these days, and often have immense relationship baggage by the time they say "I do," films like "Old Fashioned" are needed (although this film is applicable to young love also). We are going to need a whole lotta love and MERCY and healing in the future because of the deep family woundedness and brokenness that's been imposed on us and that we have imposed on ourselves by following slick and easy, sick and limping substitutes for love.

A love story either works or it doesn't. "Old Fashioned" works.


--VERY quotable film.

"It's not about looking like the right person, it's about becoming the right person."

"We don't have to go around using and hurting each other, that's all."

"The world has enough greatness and not enough goodness."

"Play time is over. Be a man."

--I meet good guys all the time. But you know what? They're kind of quiet about their goodness AND what they know is right. And that's a shame. "Let your light so shine before men that they might see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16

--"Old Fashioned" clearly shows that men need to "initiate the gift," lead, or it ain't gonna work.

--Rik Swartzwelder (Clay) also wrote and directed this film. As one of my Hollywood friends says: "No one's that good." But actually: It's not BAD! I was shocked when I saw his name come up three times.

--At times the writing is a bit twee, on the nose, lots of awkward Scripture-quoting. Bad blocking. Music is used to illustrate exactly what we're seeing, but secular films do this, too. Sr. Helena feels that word-obnoxious songs should be used like musicals: to move the story forward. At the end of the song, we're not in the same place as at the beginning of the song.

--Heavy use of overprocessed Country and Christian music (but secular films go heavy on ballads, too).

--I loved Clay's jerk radio host friend who voices all the fallacies of the day: "Women hate boring men!" "There are no knights in shining armor!" The rest of the film also addresses other myriad contemporary lies and bromides.

--Wouldn't Clay have lost all his "cool" friends by now?

--The original trailer for "Old Fashioned" was hideous. A friend rightly said that it made Clay look "unbearable." He is rather unsufferable at first, but we need to know why, and we need to wait and see if he's going to do anything about it.

--Liked the black and white silent movie titles/frames interspersed.

--It's supposed to be Ohio, but there's significant drawling and pitchers of sweet tea, and calling women "Miss So-and-So." I have been to southern Ohio frequently, and it's not like that. I think maybe one of the reasons I like the movie "Bella" is because it was set in New York City. True love in the big tough city. Rural, small-town, John Mellencamp setting not a requirement.

--Please don't think I'm anti-Southern in any way! I love the Kendrick Brothers (Georgia) and their films! And more power to the South for making these good films! But it's expected of the "Christ-haunted" South. Could not some of these films be disguised as Pacific Northwest films? East Coast films? Collaborated on with denizens of said coasts? Check out the edgy Christian film by edgy artist/songwriter/producer Steve Taylor: filmed in Oregon: Blue Like Jazz