More to come as soon as I get around to it - but for now...
First of all, let’s talk about the relationship between Anna (Scarlett Johansson) and Ben (Bradley Cooper, who is married to Janine played by Jennifer Connelly). To start, I don’t like her character to begin with. She leads her best friend Conner (Kevin Connolly) on, flirting and sleeping with him but never being honest about the fact that she knows damn well she will never be interested in him that way. He’s the back up, the one for her to go to when she feels lonely. While I understand this in ways - many of us have had that person at one time or another, her character goes above and beyond to the point where it’s genuinely keeping him from finding real love because she strings him along. It’s a complicated situation to be sure, but there is a difference between someone who is confused and conflicted - thinking that maybe they should want it, or that maybe if you just stick it out feelings will develop - and someone for whom the motivation is purely selfish. I’ve known people who have done this in the past and it’s a hard thing to see - loving your friend, but hating seeing what their behavior is doing to the other person who may even come to you for answers that you just can’t give. I also don’t like how she goes out of her way to seduce the married guy. While I recognize that there are always reasons behind why women might try to do this (they aren’t excuses, but still) I feel that with her character the motivation is simply more selfish. She doesn’t love him and she wouldn’t even want him if he actually left his wife, and he wouldn’t be happy either. Plus, even if she really did want him too, the “rule” is that married guys rarely leave their wives for another woman. Basically, although I feel like anyone who is like that must have some deeply seeded issues, she simply doesn’t take any responsibility for her bad behavior and instead feels like it’s all completely ok and justified and that I just don’t appreciate.
So now it’s onto him. Cheating is a symptom that something else it wrong. And as in this case, maybe what is wrong is that one person is an asshole. Although she definitely seduces him, ultimately he is the worse of the two for actually cheating - she’s not the one who is married or even attached. And I’m glad that his wife (Janine/Jennifer Connelly) left him in the end. It seems to me they probably never should’ve gotten married in the first place. For one, he just wasn’t ready to get married. She gave him an ultimatum, and because he didn’t want to lose her either, he agreed, but in the back of his head probably always resented the fact that he felt like it wasn’t HIS decision. As Neil (Ben Affleck) says: You are an asshole for not marrying her and then you marry her and you’re an asshole for marrying her before you are ready.”
Now, from here we go into Beth (Jennifer Aniston) and Neil (Ben Affleck’s) relationship. She also kind of gave him an ultimatum but Neil handled it the right way. He left, and he gave them both time to be on their own and decide what they really wanted. When he came back, it was his decision, and then, more than anything, it was her realizing that she wanted to be with him, regardless of the “stupid piece of paper,” that made him realize that even if he still thought it was a stupid piece of paper, he did want to spend the rest of his life with her, so why be afraid of it? If it’s so “stupid” and you don’t care about it, then why does it matter if you get it because it makes the other person happy? Plus you get a tax break amongst other benefits! I honestly think she should’ve made the ultimatum much earlier - as she mentions, they’ve been together 7 years and she’s been hiding it for five. Although I know that is easier said than done, If you know that that is what you want, why waste your time with someone who says flat out they are never going to give it to you? And why do you invest in an apartment or a car or even a pet - jointly - if you can’t commit to marriage. That’s how I feel at least.