C’mon, you know you’ve done it. Everybody has, at least once. It’s hard not to — the practice is addictive and ubiquitous, and practically a rite of passage. What am I referring to? Watching a Woody Allen movie, of course.
Allen’s prolific career has spanned four decades, with his first film (What’s New Pussycat?) debuting in 1965, and his latest (To Rome With Love) coming out last year. And in all of those films, with the help of his particular brand of neuroticism and tongue-in-cheekiness, Allen teaches us a valuable message about love. Read on for six of my favorite Woody Allen love lessons, and add yours in the comments!
1. We only want what we can't have.
Whether it’s the sweet yet unattainable ingénue (Manhattan) or the grandeur of another era (Midnight in Paris, in some senses Love and Death), we always pine for the unrealistic. Moral of the story: What’s real is a lot more satisfying. Also, don’t chase after 17-year-old schoolgirls.
2. How someone handles live lobsters says a lot about his or her personality.
Remember that scene in Annie Hall where Annie and Alvy (neurotically) decide they’re going to (neurotically) cook lobsters for dinner, and the next thing you know their kitchen’s being (neurotically) overtaken by the tricky crustaceans? There are two lessons to be learned from this. First, the level of decisiveness with which someone cooks a lobster will correspond directly to the level of decisiveness with which someone makes life decisions. Second, if this happens to you and your lady breaks down in fits of laughter, you’ve found yourself a keeper.
3. Living in the past won't move you forward.
As we learned in Midnight in Paris, the past can sometimes have a magical, nostalgic quality to it that makes us yearn to recreate it. But the past always looks better in hindsight. It's easy to forget all the reasons that we are where we are today. Want to be happy in the present? Start living in it.
4. You'll fall for a tall, dark stranger...But he's not the one you've been searching for.
In your twenties, you're always looking for a certain "something" in a relationship. And then you'll find it. Or, rather, you'll think you have. It'll come in the form of that sexy stranger, the one who has all those qualities you say you've been searching for: hot, smart, romantic, charming with just the right amount of mystery tossed in. Case in point: Javier Bardem and All. The. Ladies. in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. He will woo you and thrill you and throw you for a loop. Maybe he’ll even fly you to Oviedo to eat and drink and admire Spanish sculpture. But it’s not him you’ve been searching for. It’s yourself. Once you find that, you’ll be ready to meet your true love. Sexy art-loving Spaniard or not.
5. Dating often feels like you just woke up from 200 years of cryogenic freezing and have zero idea what's going on.
Sleeper is a great metaphor for being on the singles scene: You feel out of place, on the run, like you’re faking fitting in while fighting for your life. All with the pleasant look of bewilderment. Love lesson to be learned: You may be in alien territory, but unlike in Woody Allen’s futuristic America, these inhabitants are friendly. At least the ones worth getting to know. Just be yourself, and remember: Everybody’s nursing their own bizarre back story.
6. A little humor will make up for all the neuroticism in the world.
OK, maybe not completely, but a few jokes and a dash of slapstick will turn a whole lotta kvetching into bona fide charisma. Exhibits A to infinity: Woody Allen in all his movies.