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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

July 23, 2012 at 11:57 AM

The mysterious behavior of fictional characters

Often, at the movies, we find ourselves shaking our heads at the people on screen, who all too often behave in a way unrecognizable to the non-fictional. This is true for nearly all horror movies (come on, wouldn’t most of us at least get somebody to Go Down Into The Dark Scary Basement with us?) and many relationship movies, particularly rom-coms starring Kate Hudson. But the other day, I saw a drama with a detail in it that jolted me right out of the movie, and caused me to ponder it all the way back to the office — which says a lot about my reaction to the movie as a whole. It’s not opening for a while, and I’m not going to name the movie as this plot point is a bit spoiler-y (though not entirely; it happens in the movie’s first half hour). So, a character — let’s call him Joe, though that is not his name — is in a car, driving somewhere with his much-younger mistress — let’s not give her a name; she doesn’t need one — and it’s late at night on a quiet road, and he gets sleepy, and suddenly the car’s flipping over. Joe, because he was wearing his seatbelt, walks away; the mistress, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt (the better to be entwined around Joe while he’s driving), gets her neck snapped and dies instantly. Because he’s something of a craven coward (that part’s believable), Joe doesn’t call the police and wait with the body, but instead flees the scene and calls the most shady of his acquaintances to come pick him up. When his ride comes, Joe hops into the car to be driven home . . . AND DOESN’T PUT ON HIS SEATBELT. Now, if there was ever a time that you would buckle up, wouldn’t it be that moment? Even if you were something of an emotional wreck? A small point, to be sure, but a very distracting one.

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