Paperman (2012) Dir. John Kahrs


A return to a simple love story in its most basic form. But is it a good thing?

The image of love here is immensely dated, sentimental, patriarchal, thoroughly heterosexual. The man is the huntsman, the one who conquers; the woman represents beauty and lack of any free will, chosen by the man to be his bride. This model takes u back to ancient times, ignoring all struggle for equality. Their gestures, maneuvers, big weepy eyes full of hope and affection advocate retro understanding of love going back to the ’50s.

If a man wants a woman nothing can stand in his path, not bureaucracy, not evil cold-hearted boss with his capitalistic views, not tall skyscrapers and fast cars separating them, not lack of names and addresses to follow. With a little help from a friend: partly the gift of industrial era – the train, partly magic (old Disneyesque magic) — which the man must have conjured up with his love for the beauty — they are finally reunited just to disappear in front of our eyes before the first kiss.

Perhaps that is the charm of the story — the process itself, the falling in love, the chasing after makes our hearts beat faster; or maybe it’s merely an illusion to distract us from understanding that sometimes the princess in a fairy tale does the chasing after. The image of a white, happy-go-lucky, heterosexual couple — all too familiar — distracts us from realizing it is not a model, or a standard anymore; it is ok for the princess in a fairy tale to be Black or turn into an ogre, and for the prince to be chased after. The short, adorable story captivates and gives us a sense of escapism, thus, making it a fairy tale for adults. On the other hand, it shows the desperate need for simple, cutesy love stories. And that makes it both its strength and weakness.

Long days, pleasant nights,

Veronica Bazydlo

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