I want life to be like a movie. I think sometimes that’s why I get disappointed with it, because it isn’t.
I want all the dialogue to pop. When I am in the pub, or out at dinner, I want the conversation to be movie dialogue. I want everyone to be interesting and funny, I want the camera to pan smoothly from my friends to me and back again and I don’t want to hear a sentence that's anything less than memorable. The scene’s dark, but not too dark, and everybody glows, hilarious and likeable; not perfect but perfectly imperfect. I don’t want perfection, despite knowing that it’s only attainable in movies.
I want screwball comedy dialogue, the back and forward jousting that nobody writes any more - what banter used to be before the word “banter” got devalued. I want to be fenced with not fenced in, bounced off not fobbed off, I want to be engaged and never bored. I want to be the main character; or one of the main characters at least, I don’t ever want to be a supporting actor. You can all have your own movies - and I know you do - but this one's mine.
I want everything to be important and nothing to be unremarkable. Because even I realise that’s impossible, I want all my mundane moments to pass in a montage, looking beautiful, with something amazing on the soundtrack. It’s a song you’ve heard before and never given a second thought until it’s playing while I am wandering round the supermarket, picking a pizza or stocking up on milk, while I take out the bins, while I grab a coffee at the start of the day. Something old, something you’d nearly forgotten, brushed up and made perfect in combination with my most tedious moments.
Nobody irons in the movies. My movie won’t have ironing in it.
I want all my failings to be attractive. I want you to root for me even when I’m fucking up, and you’ll get plenty of chances because I fuck up quite often. Movies need conflict, after all, and I can provide that in spades; just stick around.
I want cinematography, too. When I stand on the platform, and I wait for the train to take me home, when the fuzzy orange numbers tell me it’s going to be late again, I want the failing light to strike the glass-windowed buildings differently, I want them to look wistful. I want the ceiling lights in the office opposite to flicker – tasteful, muted, melancholy. I want the rainy pavements to sparkle, and as I get off the train I want my head to bob in a sea of other passengers, the camera always pointing at me.
Every photo I’ve ever taken is a still from that movie, and very few of them live up to how I want it to look. Every camera I’ve ever bought is an attempt to do it justice. Every word I’ve ever written, even the boring ones, might wind up in the screenplay.
If my life was a movie I’d want you to think what have I seen him in? I’d want you to look it up on IMDB to see what else I’ve done. I’d want you to be disappointed that there isn’t anything: no sequel, no follow-up.
The closest I get is when I’m with her. When we’re at dinner, side by side, looking at everyone and wondering what they do for a living, what they’re like when they get home, whether they’re good people or bad people, our Annie Hall moment. When we laugh so hard I can’t remember what about. When she returns, after being away all week, and I hear her voice again – her proper voice, not a tired, tinny mumble down a telephone line for nowhere near long enough, from far too far away. When she tells me not to be so stupid. When she looks at me ruefully and I can tell she knows she’s been lumbered with the job of being my leading lady, the Katharine Hepburn to my Spencer Tracy. That’s when I think that this is what movie love could be like.
Not that we’ll ever know for sure. You’d need to know how movie couples are in the long run, which you never do because the film always finishes when they get together - because getting together, not staying together, is what movie couples are all about. And then I find myself thinking that maybe this is better than the movies after all. At night we turn out the lights, her head nestles in the crook of my arm, and I hope in the darkness that the credits will never roll.