Movies for Adults

I watched Witness last night and I haven’t seen the film in forever.

I was struck by how good it was, but I was also struck by several other things. First, how the film could never be made now and if it were, Hollywood would screw it up completely. Second, I was struck by how it manages to effectively be so many things at once—a fish-out of water story, a romance, and also a thriller (a pretty good thriller actually despite all the plot turns being completely familiar). It’s just gorgeous to look at—the opening alone is mesmerizing. It’s well acted (I think it’s Ford’s best acting—seriously watch everything he manages to convey with just expressions in the dancing scene with Kelly McGillis). The showdown at the end is so well done too, and manages a couple of things you don’t see nearly enough in gun battles.

But I was also struck by how it was an adult movie—not an X-rated film or a film with tons of sex—but a movie about adults staring adults (a child may be the witness to the crime in Witness, but he’s not the focus or the main character) where they have to make adult decisions for adult reasons and take into account adult things. I’m talking films where adults, normal feeling and looking adults (man, I miss the days when movie stars weren’t all just ridiculously good looking)—living normal adult lives confront the things we must confront as grown-ups and they do so in a way that feels authentic because their choices matter to them and to others.

I feel like we used to see those kind of movies a lot more. If do we get a grown-up movie now it’s usually specifically geared at someone 65 and older, an obvious attempt at Oscar bait, painfully dull or ridiculously depressing (depressing doesn’t automatically give something meaning any more than gritty does).

I’m talking about the movies your parents would rent and you’d read the box and maybe you couldn’t see past the thriller or crime or horror or even science fiction (grown-ups used to have all kinds of films) aspect of it but once you started watching it, you knew this was a grown-up movie and if you watched too, if you stayed focused you’d have a kind of a peak into an adult insight into life, romance, death, the choices we make and the choices that are made for us.

I don’t know if that makes sense but I feel like we need more movies like that.

This isn’t me pulling a Scorsese—frankly, I found his tirade silly and tiresome, especially when he admitted to having never actually watching a Marvel film. I like genre films (Witness is technically a thriller) or just fun movies or escapist movies, those all have their place and those can all still be about something bigger and truer than magic and monsters and powers and aliens. And those can all still be authentically about adults.

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