Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tyler Laughs

by Jessegirl

Can we dispel Tyler Hawkins’ brooding persona? Does the moody and morose young man in Remember Me ever break that barrier to complete joy? Is it in him when we get to know him? When we leave him? Because an ear-to-ear laugh, eyes crinkling, mouth open, chest shaking, would put any doubts to rest, wouldn’t they?

I thought I’d track the range of Tyler’s smiles and see what I can come up with. But before that, let’s remember what joy the actor who plays Tyler is capable of. Inside Robert Pattinson is a huge love of life and it is apparent by his ubiquitous, spontaneous broad grins and laughs which show us Joy. Infectious, full-throttle beaming things. Would Tyler ever get there, to that hilarious and radiant place? Had he lived, would Tyler have laughed like the actor does?

One can see a progression in Tyler’s general demeanour. The first time his father bails him out his expressions after the meeting are of frustration.

Contrast this with the second time Charles springs him after the vandalism episode at the school. This time Tyler smiles, but still only at his Dad’s back as Charles is leaving, because Tyler was surprised by his Dad’s approval.

So, only when Charles is out of sight, does Tyler really smile fully.

The contentment has begun, but Tyler keeps it to himself, can’t let his Dad in on it yet because it is too new.

Another such comparison can be made in his treatment of the receptionist. After his first bail-out, while he waits for his father in the reception area, he smirks at her in defiance when she upbraids him for smoking and he apparently wonders why he can’t use the decorative bowl as an ashtray. “Guess it was just here to tease me.” This instance of entitlement is disingenuous in tone and comes through with his mocking snicker. But that last morning Tyler grins boyishly in greeting, hands in the air like truce flags.

Here he is all play, almost giggly. She turns her back on him, not in the mood for or trusting his games, but we know he has come a long way emotionally.

Other things indicate the enormous internal journey he has made. Right from the beginning he stumbles into his room. Later he stomps out of the sweets shop. Coming out of the bar with Aiden and the girls, he wobbles unsteadily. (One his first date with Ally he walks backwards to face her, which is interesting, because inside he is actually making forward progress.) He stumbles around trying getting his bicycle to go to his Dad’s office the night of the boardroom fight, and when he returns, he staggers even more. He clumsily steps out of the bathtub, albeit in good humour, after he and Ally have their water squirting game. After his beating at the hands of Neil, he slips and flails at the stool, crumpling in defeat.

But by the end, Tyler skips down the hall to his father’s office. He moves serenely in the room. The troubled youth who stumbles through life transformed into the happy boy with a spring in his step, looking forward to seeing his father.

As we all do, Tyler behaves differently with each person. For his needy mother, the
smile is dutiful, as she adjusts his collar at Michael’s grave. It is the sombre tone of the meeting partly, but also his way of warding off her expectations. A lot is riding on him now that his older brother is gone.

At the sweets shop a bit later, he gives Caroline a genuine and broad, loving, lingering smile.

Another day, on the Alice statue, he smiles at her ‘yuletide homicide’ joke.

Again with Caroline, when he picks her up from school, both when he relates his pleasure at the book he and Michael shared, and when he explains his battered face with a joke ,

his smiles are playful and teasing.

On her last day of school, Caroline gets his big smile and outstretched arms in welcome.

He is her shelter in the storm. Brother and sister exchange more full grins when he agrees enthusiastically to go to her art show –“abso-freaking-lutely!”

He would not ever let her down.

When Tyler smiles at Aiden’s S.L.U.T. idea and later makes up a joke about ‘authors who have slept together...’ it is as one buddy to another.

However, other guys might have laughed full-out about the ladies’ tote, in the spirit of male bonding. Not Tyler. And other guys wouldn’t zone-out while shelving books immediately after tossing out a joke about writers. Reacting to Aiden’s intervention, Tyler grins at Aiden’s expense. “When was the last time you had just one drink?” he asks, smirking.

Then, at the bar, cigarette in mouth,Tyler chuckles at his friend’s unsuccessful attempt to make time with Megan. And, in the jail, when Aiden is lambasting him for not taking their situation seriously, Tyler sneers at his buddy’s use of the word ‘nihilistic’.

Not only did he dismiss his companion’s concern, Tyler did it with insult. Not his finest hour.

When Ally enters the picture, things change. Tyler oozes charm with what I’ll call ‘pick up smiles’. Interacting with her in the student lounge, he smiles and grins a lot, but it’s all part of the game, and, in my opinion, at this point, shallow and artificial.

On their first date at the Gandhi restaurant his smile reflects his candid confusion over her dessert first philosophy.

Then, at the fair, as he’s about to attempt to win her the panda, his lopsided smirk and raised eyebrow indicates good-humoured determination.
“You’re not 21,” he contradicts, his brittle smile showing us he knows he’s been duped.

Then, as she’s about to leave in the taxi, he smiles sheepishly after she’s rebuffed his attempted kiss.

Their next date, at his place, is the next step in getting to know each other and it is full of flirting and self-conscious behaviour. Tyler wants Ally to like him.

As he presses raw spaghetti noodles into the pot, he smiles, telling her he comes from a long line of Irish falconers. After dinner, he smiles when she comes to the sink to do dishes because his incompetence annoys her. This amuses him and one wonders whether it’s yet another move in the game.

He sprays her. Naughty boy, all big eyes, he wears a fatuous grin on his face as he watches for her reaction
Then the bathtub scene ratchets the date- teasing up a couple of notches and Tyler sports a full toothy grin as he tries to retrieve a wet cigarette from his pocket and then shoots her a goofy grin with the drenched ciggie dangling from his mouth.

Tyler is actually having fun, and the smiles are frequent and genuine.

And now Janine. Tyler and his father’s executive assistant seem to be in tune with each other’s moods. In the first bail out scene Janine asks after his health but, after looking him up and down, draws her own conclusion from his battered face and his breath. It seems like these two have a short hand. In a later scene, after Tyler and Ally have made love and he goes to the diner to write, Tyler encounters Janine, who is making a morning coffee run. She smiles at him with tender care and he returns this.

This is one of those scenes brimming with unspoken and deep affection and I have gone to it a number of times before. It nurtures this broken boy, and I’ll warrant Tyler knows Janine’s routine, looks forward to these encounters and to words about his father. Janine brings out the boy in Tyler; his smile in this interchange is full of long-standing goodwill. A very touching scene, played perfectly by Burton and Pattinson.

Smiles are not always indicators of happiness, of course. We all know it’s more
complicated than that. When Tyler blows out the candles on his 22nd birthday cake, although he is in shadow, he smiles. This is one of those complicated expressions. It is dutiful. His Mom is there, as are the others. They expect that of him. But his smile is so very wistful, almost sad. He is thinking of his brother and of the significance of the twenty-second year of life. For me, this is one of the saddest moments in the film. The foreshadowing was screaming at the viewer in its blatancy. The candles lit flames, snuffed out by his breath, and leaving the screen in deep shadow. Tyler is darkest of all, his charcoal form and the smile I talked about barely visible after he blows out the light.

There are two distinct opposing trajectories operating here, the destiny which pulls
Tyler closer to his death, and his inner path towards happiness. Ironically, after this foreboding birthday scene, Tyler’s smiles are more frequent. This is how the two paths clash.

From this point, we see Tyler’s growing contentment, his healing. At the beach house, with Ally and his family, he grins lazily at Aiden’s silly charades moves.

A moment later, he is subdued and reflective as he puts his hand tenderly on Ally’s head. Tranquil. Then, on the train ride home with Ally and Aiden, Tyler is all smiles. He is HAPPY!

True enough, the whole issue with Neil, Tyler’s confession to Ally, her rejection, his move to forgiveness, all derail this achievement and they sink him back into a big brood all over again. But by that time his destiny rams in, he has retrieved that hard-won contentment.

Tyler does nothing but smile on September 11th:

Tells Ally he loves her.

Big smiles as he leaves Ally and Aiden in the apartment.

Crinkly smile while he talks to his Dad on the phone.

A secret smile on the elevator on the way up to the office.

A boyish, playful grin for the receptionist.

A serene smile while he looks at the screensaver.

A peaceful smile as he’s about to go to the window. He keeps it as he approaches. He is content.

And then destiny’s trajectory hits its target.

Tyler was on the cusp of laughing the way Pattinson does. He never achieved that level of pure, spontaneous, unadulterated bliss, or levity. It was coming. Joy was on the horizon, But as we all know, so was something else. The point is, he was a man in motion, battling inner demons and winning because he’d forged alliances. Tyler could brood with the best of them, but even when he edged towards despair, his sense of self-preservation kicked in. His brooding was not fatalistic but antagonistic. He had the heart of a fighter. He seems to have had to fight for every
smile, or at least it could be said that every smile was like a victory.

No, Tyler never laughs in that infectious way, spilling his joy into the air around him and sending it to those around him in a big booming way. He does not seed the air with exhilaration. His serenity is good but it is still not the intoxicating relish of a young man. But, given a bit more time, he would have made it so. The promise was right there, in the language of his body and face in those moments with Janine, before. It was a promise one could count on.

And at the end, joy is an embryo, tucked inside his healing soul.



RobsessedVenezuelaMovies said...

Que bello me encanta Tyker y sus sonrisas. Rob es un gran actor muy talentoso. El dió vida a un personaje maravilloso como lo es Tyler :)

kalinca62 said...

I've seen RM many, many times and I never analyzed Tyler's smile and it's significance as the movie progressed like you have. I pretty much accepted it at face value (no pun intended). But I find your insight intriguing. Especially with regards to his 22nd birthday and its meaning; his profound sadness at what was lost and what might have been. Tyler blowing out his candles; the fragility of life. Tyler was facing his demons and was winning little by little. That's what is so tragic about RM - he was so close! Tyler's smiles were his milestones. Thank you Jesse!

imloco2 said...

Jesse I think you could teach a class on RM. It would be a good one. Love hearing your take on it. It's so often mine, but always with a few things I didn't realize before.

WhyIstheRumAlwaysGone said...

jessegirl, it's stunning, how you 've managed to analyze each and every one of Tyler's smiles and laughs, and show his psychological progression. As if his smiles were a breadcrumb trail. Every time you post an article, it shows me a new perspective, a new way of understanding the movie, new clues. It's deep and original and insightful. It also shows you did a lot of research and that you know the movie perfectly, you can analyze it so masterfully, but you also have an intuitive grasp of what it means; You are able to "feel" the movie from inside (its true, inner meaning, every minute detail of it) and you understand it from the outside (you can decipher every technique used, explain the meaning of all its elements...) It's a brilliant study, and a unique point of view, and it's so true. Thank you so much for sharing your Remember Me journey with us...

jessegirl said...

Kalinca...great new voice! thx.

imloco...Wow, still checking in. Thanks for the teaching nod.

Rum...Wow, I'm really blushing. Apart from my husband (and one sister), who loves my work but is biased, my family is silent. I don't actually know what they think of either RM or my writing about it.

What I do know is that all of those who have commented here on any of my pieces have helped me understand more. It's about dialogue.
I have one more piece in me--that I should have had so many is, in itself,ludicrous--about the triumph over the tragedy, and that'll be it.

Anonymous said...

I deeply value your analysis, it enhances my experience of Remember Me. I do hope the creators have been able to read your thoughts.


sonjaluvsRob said...

Jesse I'm here ..what a beautiful and heartrending site it is..I can feel all the love poured into it..thank you for making it so.
Hope all is well with you..
I'll be back later to read more.
Much love to you ♥


jessegirl said...

Hey, Sonja, thanks for giving it a look. I don't get alerts, so just saw this now.
I'm fine, thanks. Hope you are too.

Anonymous said...

I love the way you walk us thru his smiles ;-)) Thank you for sharing your feelings and insight on this beautiful movie ♥
love, Sonja

Anonymous said...

I'm back again...the last line..''joy is an embryo, tucked inside his healing soul''...I cannot get over that line, beautiful...and moves me in the depths of my soul..Thank you for writing it. ♥ love, Sonja

jessegirl said...

Aww, Sonja, thanks and you are welcome. I so much appreciate your response. I still cannot believe that some critics disliked Tyler immensely. (Still not getting notices about comments but will check periodically to see if you've been around.) xoxo

Post a Comment