Our latest discussion on the podcast has got me thinking about the troubles of love. In fact, I’ve been dwelling on it since I re-watched a beloved film that speaks keenly about the subject, Last Night. Together with finishing the series Pushing Daisies, such thoughts brought me to a particular form of love, the one they say it’s the purest: unrequited love.
Indeed to love someone knowing the feeling is not mutual is as selfless as it gets, but charity in the affairs of the heart does not provide a happy ending. Though inherently sad, tales of unrequited love can be quite a beautiful thing when in the hands of a sensitive and perceptive author. Some focus on the pain, while others try to find something positive for the ones swooning in the background to hold on to, but the best (and most heartbreaking ones) always drag on for years, fuelled by the hope of having the feeling returned.
When I think of this, three women always come to mind.
OLIVE SNOOK & THE PIE MAKER
from PUSHING DAISIES
As far as tv shows go, Ted takes the prize for the most unfortunate love affairs (the mother better hurry up now), but the most endearing story of rejection I’ve ever seen, is the one of the ever lasting love of Olive Snook for her magical pie maker, Ned.
It’s the love that inspired me to write this valentine’s day post, because never had I seen a show that so completely devotes a great part of itself to a character that is not even a third of a love triangle. She’s outside looking into a strange relationship that she doesn’t fully comprehend (the girl is back from the dead, they don’t touch, what’s up with that), whilst staying friends with both Ned and Charlotte ‘Chuck’ Charles (God’s intended for the pie maker).
However, apart from a couple of scenes, this is not a sad story. Olive is a tiny firecracker that loves life, joyfully works everyday at the Pie Hole, and is always eager to solve a mystery. She’s funny, compassionate, kind, and like most victims of unrequited love, hopeful. For two seasons she keeps believing that Ned’s heart might turn around, that one day he might look at her and be overwhelmed with the passion that was always inside him. A simple touch or smile, the mere suggestion from his part that there’s some truth to her dreams, and she’s once again dragged into a turmoil of daydreams and love songs.
But perhaps the best part of this imagined love affair comes when she is faced with reality. There’s tears and anger towards Ned and herself, but quickly there’s the calmness of realising that with acceptance of the truth comes the possibility of moving on. She might love him forever at some level, but that’s okay, because now she is free to see that love as something to remember with fondness.
CHARLEY & GEORGE
from A SINGLE MAN
If one could still hope that Olive and Ned had something more than friendship between them, in Charley’s case there’s simply no chance, for George is a playing a whole different game. They’ve been friends for a long time, supporting each other through the troubles of their personals lives, sharing the pain of Charley’s divorce and the recent passing of George’s lover, Jim.
When he needs her, she’s there, but her fragile position has stirred deep feelings towards him, feelings she knows can never be returned, even though she still imagines and shares the hopes of a life with George. Maybe these arise from a moment of loneliness and confusion, perpetuated by the eccentric mind and self-centred world in which she lives in, but they are there, and in a key scene she decides to act on them, as if unaware of their utopian nature.
It’s a sad tale, but there can be great beauty in sadness and fragility, and Moore embraces just that.
FIONA & CHARLES
from FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL
Lastly, we have Fiona – an old friend of Charles, who not only has been in love with for years, but also has to go through the pain of watching fall in love and ultimately marry someone else, not even suspecting the feelings she has for him. Perhaps she hid them too well, sensing that he didn’t feel the same, but that doesn’t diminish the suffering; in fact, like a silent cry, it only increases it.
I’ve always loved Kristin Scott Thomas’s performance here, for being so subtle and nuanced. I find myself rooting for her, begging Charles to see her, really see her. But just like she can’t simply stop loving him, he can’t start loving her. And that’s the sad truth to every tale of the sort.
still in the making: Donna and Harvey, from the series Suits. Does he love her? Will they end up together? One can only guess. But no need to speculate about Donna’s feelings, because those are as clear as day, no matter what she says. Meanwhile he running towards that other gal, oh well.
when it comes to unrequited love, what tales come to your mind?
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