At 1 minute 45 we see the darkside prince falling in love with Rey from Jakku *romantic music known as The Force Theme playing*
“Many women feel like they have wasted their time buying into a franchise that ultimately never cared about fulfilling its own promises about happy endings, telling a complete story, or even offering hope and compassion to the characters that needed it the most.”
I just got back from seeing Marriage Story, and it left me a bit sore.
I had assumed that because people were so enthusiastic about this movie, the couple played by Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson would ultimately get back together after their divorce process gets from bad to worse.
I had gone to the movies because I longed to see Adam Driver on the big screen, and had vowed not to see The Rise of Skywalker anymore.
The Rise of Skywalker, TROS, was 2019.
This was the new year and it was not invited.
So instead of breaking my resolution for a TROS-free decade, I went to see Wedding Story, also with Adam Driver. I have skipped The Report because that was too serious and heavy for me, but Marriage Story was doable.
Like I said, all the positive feedback for this movie had convinced me there was much to like, and probably included a happy end.
After all, it was called Marriage Story.
Making it painfully obvious that I had learned very little from Rise of Skywalker, which should have been called The Rise of Palpetine.
But hey! That does not sell!
Neither does a movie called Divorce Story.
So I went to the movies, chose Marriage Story, and I was disappointed.
In Dutch we have an expression that allows you to say something is “a dragon of a movie”.
It was as if I was watching a Woody Allen movie, and I’d rather not.
I read people thought the director of Marriage Story created movies that looked a lot like Woody Allen’s, because they revolve around relationships and New York. But I think them and me differ on whether that’s a good thing or a dragon of a movie.
So either way, Marriage Story was (for me) almost unbearable to watch. There was no reason for these people to get a divorce other than that they both brought so many unspoken expectations into that marriage, it was simply doomed to fail unless they were going to talk about it.
Which apparently they could not without getting very angry with each other.
Neither one of the parties was taking any responsibility for not setting any boundaries and goals of their own during their marriage and had just plunged into the deep end hoping for the best.
Which turned out to become a very nasty and very expensive divorce ten years later.
And then there are moments when they could have seen how easy it was to love each other, and that it is all a big misunderstanding and yet they don’t see anything!
As the viewer you can see the potential is still there, yet apparently they experience it as a cathartic cry and still go through with the divorce.
It made no sense.
So on my way home I started pondering if I needed to write about this movie Marriage Story.
And if so, what was I going to write?
Ultimately I decided I was going write about it in conjunction with The Rise of Skywalker.
Both movies had ended on a bad note, in particular for the character Adam Driver had played.
But Marriage Story had received raving reviews.
Whereas The Rise of Skywalker had mixed reviews from critics and Rotten Tomatoes shut down the pole to prevent its audience review would go down. It’s had the same audience score for two weeks.
So I started thinking about this critically acclaimed Woody Allen-like divorce drama, which was loved by the audience and not by me; Versus the critically not acclaimed Rise of Skywalker movie, which was also not loved by the audience nor by me.
Although many disgruntled fans still wanted to make the point TROS was “Way better than The Last Jedi!”
To understand what that means, we must go down and search Star Wars at its roots.
Take a meta perspective on the origins of the latest trilogy, in order to reveal why for people like me, The Rise of Skywalker was not just a bad movie in particular in comparison to The Last Jedi;
But also why people like me are invested in Star Wars in a way that does not even begin to compare with seeing a one-off Woody Allen like movie.
To understand why a movie like Marriage Story will never get my heart, nor any other heart like mine, pumped with excitement or broken from grief, we need to go back to 2015.
To a movie called The Force Awakens, which was the first part of the new trilogy also known as “The Sequel trilogy”. And we need to establish that this movie, nor its successor The Last Jedi was an accident, but that they belonged to a story that was set out by Disney for this trilogy.
A story that was abandoned.
As was the group of new fans that had embraced it as their own:
The group of people, known as Reylos.
The Story of the Reylos
For over 2,5 weeks I have been glued to my Twitter timeline, reading everything about the heavily disappointing Star Wars 9 The Rise of Skywalker. My addiction ultimately paid off in giving me The Ultimate Article on Everything Wrong with The Rise of Skywalker.
Star Wars: Why Reylo Outrage Inspired #ReleaseTheJJCut
This article pleads for release of the original/ real ending, by JJ Abrams. And although the title does not fully cover it, the article sums up everything wrong with Star Wars 9, in particular from a Reylo perspective.
I will explain in a minute why that is defendable as the most relevant perspective.
But let me first explain what “Reylo” means.
It stands for the relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren. Their love story roots in the myth of Death and the Maiden, in the Phantom of the Opera and it is almost a direct clone of Disney’s other favorite (Star Wars is owned by Disney), Belle and the Beast.
The Beast, Death or the Phantom was Kylo Ren, played by the tallest actor of his generation Adam Driver, who has made it big with numerous highly acclaimed movies.
Adam Driver played Kylo Ren, Disney’s dark prince, who would be united with his equal in the light, the girl Rey from Jakku.
Together Rey and Kylo would bring balance to The Force:
The darkside warrior with the light inside of him and the lightside warrior Rey with the dark inside of her. Like the black yin and light yang, both having one dot of the other inside of them.
Now that I am unapologetically making Kylo Ren “Yin”, which is also the female element, I am reminded of an interesting perspective which was offered on Twitter directly, so I don’t have an article (yet?), about how the tall handsome warrior Kylo Ren is actually portrayed as very feminine.
Not only does he posses the long flowy Disney prince hair;
He also uses his voice, his eyes, his mystery to seduce her. At one point he’s shirtless when he talks to her, throwing Rey off as she stammers if he perhaps has a cowl to cover himself up.
For me it were indeed these feminine aspects that made Kylo irresistible.
So Reylos, or Reylo shippers are the people who “ship” (from relationship) the pairing of Rey and Kylo. A pairing which – and this is important in the light of where things went – was setup and supported by Disney themselves.
As much as more traditional Star Wars fans may argue otherwise, episode 7 The Force Awakens (2015) and in particular episode 8 The Last Jedi (2017) were setting up a story that was more sexual, sensual, spiritual and more mythical, than any of the previous Star Wars movies had ever been.
If the third trilogy was rooted in anything from the past, it was much more in the Prequels; A series of movies George Lucas himself made at the beginning of this century. And at the time, the prequels were heavily criticized by the fans of the originals.
Fans of the originals did not like the prequel trilogy.
And now both fans of the originals and fans of the prequels, didn’t like the theme of the sequels.
But here is how it differs and where the recent criticism turned into the downfall of the entire sequel trilogy:
Because in the case of the prequels, the criticism never got to influence the story.
George Lucas knew the bigger story and he stuck with it.
But what happened in the sequels is that episode 7 was different, fresh, but not too different. And was still ambiguous with regard to the love theme. It was this ambiguity that ensured the older fanbase liked it, and drew in the first of the new fanbase.
The Reylo shippers.
But then came 8, The Last Jedi.
The romantic story was dialed up and all hell broke loose. Criticism was usually not directly aimed at the romance, nor at the socially conscious themes 8 had included.
Instead it was projected at what was “done to” Luke Skywalker (he was a bitter man regretting the choices he had made, instead of a Jedi superhero), and on how many or more how few lightsaber fights 8 had.
But the point that should have been made then, is that those complaints were entirely irrelevant to the bigger story which was being told. The story that after hiding in episode 7, was finally becoming more explicit and more visible.
And if George Lucas had done this trilogy, just like he had done the prequels, he would have held the course. He would not have changed the story, because of nitpicking on choices that didn’t have anything to do with the bigger narrative.
But as the old Star Wars fans were angry because they saw Star Wars canon, and the characters as they saw them, being compromised in 8, Disney grew uncomfortable with the path they had chosen.
There are people pointing out that Disney has creative freedom, and that it’s okay for these three movies of the final trilogy to have an entirely different tone;
There are even those wondering if Reylos have a right to ask or expect a Happily Ever After.
Yes, we do.
Not because that is what “we” want to see, but because that is what has been fed to us.
THAT is the story Disney set up, that is the entire thing this sequel trilogy is based on. Or was based on, until they first got cold feet after the backlash from the Last Jedi.
And then weeks before the premiere they got cold all the way up to the waistline, because they changed the entire ending.
The ending of The Rise of Skywalker does not contain any original material of Adam Driver “acting” his death. They used material, in all likeliness from his Happily Ever After, and edited it using every dirty trick in the book, until it looked like he had died
And Rey – who had been hailed during the entire movie as being half of “A dyad in the Force! A power like life itself! Unseen for generations!” was copied from her Pasaana shots, and pasted into Tatooine.
Disney’s half of the Dyad, also known as Belle, is now redubbed to Wonder Woman in space, and doesn’t need anybody anymore. There was no footage of her mourning the dead side of her dyad, her other half, and the man with whom she had been having heated Force conversations with for over a year;
Instead they let her commemorate his uncle, Luke Skywalker with whom she had a difficult relationship with; And his mother Leia.
Just like Adam Driver didn’t do any acting for his ending, this footage too was most likely entirely fabricated and the actress who played Rey never got a chance to act as someone who had just lost her soulmate.
They just copy pasted her into the desert.
Rey in the final minutes of the film, has been compared to the Stepford Wives: She does not show any emotion only an artificial smile.
I feel Star Wars was never for me.
Or, as the article said it:
“Star Wars has the bitter taste of a franchise that accidentally tapped into women’s interests but had little interest in them as intelligent viewers engaging with the material.”
We were lured in with the promise of an epic fairy tale, and then we were kicked out that we should be strong, be alone and eat sand.
That made Star Wars 9, The Rise of Skywalker, so painful for me and all the other Reylos.
Stories are there to transcend our pain and suffering. They provide healing.
I think the main difference for me, and perhaps for other Reylos too, is that I would never bring those kinds of expectations to a real life human being.
Not into a real life relationship between a man and a woman.
Expectations are projections of who will save you and complete you. According to Disney they don’t even belong in fairy tales. Even there the heroine just has to suck it up.
But I think the reason Marriage Story never really got to me, is that even I, a romantic Reylo, know that expectations of your other half completing you,
definitely do not belong in a marriage.
An Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living