Hey everybody. Michael C. here. Recently I told my girlfriend she reminds me of Holly Hunter's character in Broadcast News. The comparison was meant as a compliment. To my mind Jane Craig embodies the same qualities of intelligence and moxie that I admire in her. Hopefully, when she finally watches the movie she will keep that in my mind during the scenes where Hunter's self-described "basket case" is sobbing for no reason and generally making a shambles of her personal life.
In any case it got me to thinking. It doesn't happen often, but every once in a while you meet a film character that makes you think, my God, the filmmakers must have had me in mind when they made this movie. Now in any quality film we can relate to characters with which we have nothing in common, at least on the surface. I couldn't be further away from the character of Clarice Starling, for example, but I relate to her every step of the way. But beyond that level, sometimes we meet fictional creations that reflect ourselves back at us in ways that reverberate and linger.
Characters like this could remind us of ourselves physically or in their jobs or in personality tics we frequently find ourselves guilty of. These may even be characters we catch ourselves consciously – or unconsciously – trying to emulate. Like the way a generation of young romantics set out to mimic the laid back, jaded cool of Marcello Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita, or how many young women in the late 70’s attempted to reproduce Annie Hall’s devastating mix of flighty neurosis and sexiness.
So I guess what I’m asking this week is...
Who is that character for you? Who is your big screen avatar? I can answer for myself easily...
Lloyd Dobler as played by John Cusack in Cameron Crowe's Say Anything. It isn’t difficult to locate the character’s appeal. He is smart and a bit of a dreamer and prone to be hyper-verbal, especially when nervous. He wins the affection of the beautiful Ione Skye despite lacking traditional leading man looks, because she senses his kindness and core decency. He knows he wants something more than a typical career path, although he can't quite pinpoint exactly what that is. I can’t have been alone among brainy suburban guys who came of age in the 90's who found Lloyd an unlikely hero.
Beyond finding affinity with his personality, Lloyd Dobler gave you something to aspire towards. Something writer/director Cameron Crowe referred to as “optimism as a revolutionary act.” Lloyd attacks life with eagerness and positivity. Even when he gets kicked in the teeth – as when Diane breaks his heart – he doesn’t let it defeat him. Don’t we all wish we would have the resources to reach for the grand romantic gesture, like Lloyd does, instead of surrendering to the urge to crumple to the floor in a ball of self-pity?
So I’ll turn it over to the floor: What movie character is your ideal cinematic doppelganger? Are you like me in that you reach for John Cusack in Say Anything only to fall short most of the time and land on John Cusack in High Fidelity? Let's hear it in the comments.