There’s so much about And so it goes… that reminds me of the many films that have trod this path before – As Good As It Gets, Something’s Gotta Give, Morning Glory – a grumpy male learns to feel again and everything comes right with the world. But this formulaic fantasy still has at least one wise observation to make about love.
Michael Douglas stars as Oren Little, a Californian real-estate agent on the verge of retirement. The only task left at the end of a successful career is to sell his family home. Oren has moved out because the rooms remind him too much of his deceased wife and has become the grumpy terror of toddlers in a nearby apartment building. But his Scrooge-like character faces a renovation with the arrival of a granddaughter he never knew he had. Oren’s estranged son is heading to prison for six months because of a mistake his boss made, leaving daughter Sarah on the doorstep. Initially outraged, Oren’s stone heart begins to crack thanks to the efforts of his heart-of-gold neighbour Leah, played by Diane Keaton. And before long we’re negotiating the standard series of mix-ups and mayhem that you just know will result in an equally predictable happy ending.
And so it goes… is the creation of Hollywood’s king of schmaltz, Rob Reiner. He’s also responsible for similar feel-good films like The Bucket List, Rumor Has It, and The American President. However his latest production is possibly even more by-the-numbers than these feel-good family constructions – Oren is a curmudgeon because his wife died of cancer:
“For two years I bathed her, I fed her. I even prayed for her. I cried every day and I’ve shown all the compassion I’m going to show!”
– his son is an estranged, reformed drug addict, and he hates everything young and energetic. But he doesn’t count on the thawing effect of Diane Keaton’s Leah. A saccharine-sweet, struggling jazz singer, she’s trying to find a way forward after the death of her own husband. Could these two broken halves possibly find love again? Certainly in Hollywood, the land where lightning always strikes twice.
Yet there is one moral, however hackneyed, that’s worth drawing your attention to. Predictably Oren and Leah end up in bed together. The camera is thankfully discreet – Michael Douglas is long past Basic Instinct – and it’s largely for the laughs. But when Oren tries to pretend like it was no big thing, Leah pulls him up short:
“I can’t do casual sex. Even back in the day at Woodstock I always knew…that love comes at a price.”
This is a piece of wisdom that extends well outside the bedroom. You can’t have intimate contact without intimacy. Certainly people open themselves up during sex and join in a way that moves well beyond biology. That’s why the Bible refers to it as the act of the two becoming ‘one flesh’. But even more than that, our love is measured not just by what we will do for one another, but what we are prepared to give up. There may be sex, but there is no real commitment without sacrifice. This is the theme Reiner unfolds as Oren learns first to give himself up for his granddaughter, his son and finally Leah. He might have learned a lot quicker if he had heard Jesus say:
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Distributor: Studio Canal
Release Date: August 7