Friday, July 20, 2012


It's hard to tell whether a love story involving 14 year-olds is innocent and pure, or just trivial and sentimental. In Flipped, Juli has had a crush on Bryce since they first met as kids. It's all in the eyes, is basically what her voiceover reveals. Bryce, however, has no such crush. In fact, he finds Juli's infatuation annoying and creepy. The thing is, while Juli is by no means ugly (in fact she's very pretty), she is just not the prettiest girl in school. (That title goes to a blonde called Sherry.) But what Juli apparently lacks in looks she makes up for in spirit, generosity, and heart. As dreamy as Bryce's eyes might be, however, he can't see what's right in front of him. Stupid Bryce.

I'm not sure if it's a general problem with males, but Bryce's stupidity is certainly my stupidity. If you're looking for proof, look not further than the fact that when Sherry came on the scene, I was all "Forget about Juli- that's the one you wanna end up with!" (Okay so I didn't say that, but that was the gist of my thoughts.)

I lament that - that instinct I've fostered that makes me see so narrowly. I wonder about all the people I've failed to see, which in turn makes we wonder what I've missed. Brad Pitt's character in The Tree of Life confesses toward the end of the film that he has "failed to notice the glory" (A Malickian theme carried over from The Thin Red Line. Indeed, a biblical theme carried over from Romans 1.) Do that, and life flashes by. What is glorious? Who is beautiful? Yes, these judgements are in the eye of the beholder, but that is not an argument for pure relativism. The character of that beholder will determine whether the judgements are wise or foolish, whether the desires are with the grain of the universe or perverted. The question to ask ourselves, therefore, and the question I am often too ashamed to answer, is, "Am I the kind of beholder who can see what is truly beautiful?" Nevertheless, whatever the answer, there is more to the story...

In Flipped, Bryce undergoes a major shift in perception. Juli remains Juli, yet all of a sudden she is Juli! It's not clear exactly how this happens. I've had that experience before, yet I have no idea what causes such a wholesale transformation. I'd like to think it's an increase in maturity or some such, but that would be granting too much credit. It is probably just an act of sheer grace. Deus ex machina, in film terminology. Whatever the precise cause, Bryce's eyes are opened, and he looks at Juli in the same way she's always looked at him. But that is not the end of the story either...

Flipped is not without its faults, but I liked it. I liked it because I cared. I cared because I could relate. I could relate because I, too, am stupid and in need of constant eye-opening.


  1. just stumbled across this and love your honesty in this post! most definitely want to see this film now x

  2. Welcome, Ruthie. And thank you! I'm honest about once every 25 posts, so I'm glad this happened to be the one you stumbled across. And if you have any nostalgic or sentimental bone in your body, this is probably the film for you, so get watchin!