Thursday, March 8, 2018

A month at the movies #8: The Apartment

The Apartment is 58 years old, but is just as fresh and biting as it ever was, and has a strikingly relevant message for a 21st century audience about the image we all project.

The main characters in this film are, on the surface, freakishly adorable. They wear sharp clothes and spit out sharper banter, they live in New York at the height of the American empire, and they have all sorts of endearing quirks - the way Shirley MacLaine spins her wrist every time she goes to push the elevator button is infinitely charming.

But behind that cheery facade, they're dealing with real issues, lost in the modern world and just struggling to get by. They're misunderstood and rejected, and just holding onto everything by their fingertips. They're lost and alone, dealing with depression and despair, silently screaming into the aching void and wondering why nobody can hear them.

But it's not all dark and grim, as long as you make some kind of proper human connection, and our heroes in The Apartment do find someone who really understands them. Someone who gets them, someone who makes life just a little bit more bearable, someone they can play cards with.

There was no such thing as social media in 1960, but so many of us would recognise the same drive to look sharp and smart, while never really talking about any underlying problems. We use Facebook and Twitter and Instagram to connect with other people, but most of the time we're just trying to show everybody how windswept and interesting our lives are, no matter how shitty things really are. Behind the grinning profile photo is a human being, just struggling to get through the goddamn day.

There is nothing wrong with maintaining an image of cool, but there is so much more to human relationships than that, and people can not live up to their own facade. We need more than that, and sometimes we just need is somebody who understands us, and can let us know without having to actually have to say it out loud. Just shut up and deal.

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