So, the other day I watched Neil Simon‘s The Goodbye Girl for the first time. I love, love, love Neil Simon’s work. He really understands the human emotions and relationships, yet somehow always makes everything seem so attainable and humorous.
There’s actually a few versions of The Goodbye Girl (including a Broadway musical with Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters…weird) but the one I saw was the 1977 version with Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason (who was actually married to Simon). The movie is about a young mother who gets dumped and the apartment she was staying in was actually subleted to this man, Dreyfuss. She has no where to go, so he takes some pity on her and lets her stay (uh, rent free…) ; they hate each other in the beginning, but they end up falling in love.
I really liked this movie for multiple reasons. One reason was that Dreyfuss’s character isn’t supposed to be very good looking, sexy, etc. But, there’s a tenderness and gentleness to the way he treats Mason and her daughter that makes her fall in love with him. He genuinely loves her and can’t get enough of her. It’s funny to actually see, physically, throughout the movie, that his looks change, the more he falls in love with her. In the beginning of the movie you think to yourself, wow, I could never see myself with someone like him–he’s not that nice to her in the beginning, he’s annoying, brass, rude, and sort of mangy (shielding himself because in turn, she’s not nice to him, and he really does like her). But, when she lets herself trust him, and in turn, his feelings become apparent to her, you can totally see how madly in love he is, and you, the viewer, long for that sort of love. It’s funny that people can physically change right before your eyes, the more you fall for them. At first you’re not attracted to them, but the more you get to know them, and the more you see who they really are, the more attractive they can become. It’s funny how the human eye and mind work together. On the flipside, you ever have a guy be mean to you and suddenly they don’t look so hot anymore? That’s happened to me a lot. He’s attractive to start, but when his nastiness starts showing, suddenly his eyes bulge out more, his nose looks funny, and his mouth is too wide for his face. Again, maybe that’s the brain protecting us from future harm by making the mean boys look ugly and the nice boys look suddenly attractive. Thoughts?
The other reason I love this movie is because of this one line that Dreyfuss says to Mason at the end of the movie. The movie is called The Goodbye Girl because everyone always is leaving her. Well, at the end of the movie, Dreyfuss gets an acting gig for a month in California and he tells her that of course he’s coming back, but she doesn’t believe him. And he says something to her like (I can’t find the actual quote anywhere), “Why is it that the three men before me left without saying goodbye and yet I’m the one who gets the brunt of it all and I’m the one who’s actually coming back!?” It made me stop and think. We all have trust issues. It takes a long time to 100% trust someone; but it’s true that we (sometimes) lay the anger and blame for screwing us over on the next lover that comes along. Even though the new person is 100% trustworthy and amazing and loves us, we still harbor the trust issues from the people that came before the new person. It’s simply not fair to the new person, which is what Dreyfuss is saying, and the hurdle that we have to get over is putting the past behind us and trusting the new person. Trust is tricky; if someone breaks our trust, we’re not just angry at him/her, we’re mad at ourselves for trusting them in the first place. Therefore, when the next person comes along, we’re so wary of them, yet wanting to trust them at the same time. Even if they prove themselves clean and trustworthy, we still are in survival mode and our brain reminds us of the times we were hurt. It’s so hard to put those feelings away and trust the new person; but, in order to have a strong relationship, the bad feelings have to become lessons learned and not constant struggles.
Anyway, see The Goodbye Girl. It’ll make you laugh and cry. For real.
Hope everyone had a lovely labor day…summer is officially over.