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Dissecting One Of The Best Scenes In Cinema In 2011, And What This Tells Us About Love
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In the midst of a mostly enjoyable recent film, "Crazy, Stupid, Love," there is a spellbinding scene in which Ryan Gosling's sauve character, Jacob, brings Emma Stone's feisty, defiant character, Hannah, home to his ulta chic bachelor pad. By this time, it is well established that Jacob is unusually successful with women, though this is the first time the viewer follows him home and sees the impressive routine he goes through in order to seal the deal. This time is different though, as Hannah is more complex than the other girls and is new to the dynamics of a one night stand.

The scene that unfolds is striking. One reason for this is the superb acting by both Gosling and Stone; their chemistry is palpable. The cinematography is also excellent. But ultimately, the reason that the scene is so moving is that it exquisitely captures something deep and instantly recognizable: the beauty of that rarest of connections with another human being, a fusion of genuine chemistry and vulnerability, forming the basis of the journey that is romantic love.

As Jacob puts on some music and expertly makes a pair of Old Fashioneds, Hannah paces nervously around his expansive living room. Before long, she convinces him to try out his best move on her, which happens to showcase his remarkable physique and involves imitating a scene from "Dirty Dancing" as the song "Time of Your Life" plays in the background. The mood quickly changes from playful to sensual, and they head for the bedroom. But then it takes an unexpected turn, as Jacob and Hannah begin to talk in between kisses. Soon it's all talking and no kissing. They laugh. They connect. He begins to talk about himself, something he's never done before. He talks about his parents, his lifestyle, and his goofy habit of staying up at night and buying "as-seen-on-TV" items. In the midst of their laughing, he remarks "I am wildly unhappy and trying to buy it, and it's not working." Such vulnerability is the opposite of all that Jacob appears to stand for; this stark contrast reveals the banality of life without love, even for a man who seems to have it all. Rather than engaging in meaningless physical intimacy, Jacob and Hannah spend the night lost in conversation, eventually falling asleep in each other's arms.

It is hard to imagine watching this scene and not saying "I want to find that." The challenge is finding the right person to share such a connection with. In the movie, Jacob is the model of the "try as many partners as possible until one fits" approach, while Hannah is the serial monogamist. Yet until their night together, neither approach has yielded success. This demonstrates the inherent difficulty in the endeavor of finding love: there is no single recipe or "how to" guide for finding love. Though some get lucky and find it fast, for most people, trial and error is an inevitability.

But even though there is no fast and easy way to find love, there are a few important things that we can take away from this movie that might bring us just a little closer. The first lesson is from Jacob. Jacob spends much of the movie coaching Steve Carell's character, Cal, on how to meet women. He teaches him about the importance of style and confidence. The reality is that first impressions matter, and presenting yourself as someone with a good sense of style and taste will give you a better chance of meeting other interesting people, a necessary first step toward finding love. The second lesson is from Hannah. Her past relationships were all safe and uninteresting. Jacob is different from other guys whom she has dated and perhaps slightly out of her comfort zone. But she takes a risk, and it turns out to be more than worth it.

Thus, finding love may ultimately require perseverance and a touch of trial and error, but by making an effort to present yourself in an appealing manner and taking some risks, it might be possible to accelerate the process a little bit. And in the meantime, at least cinema occasionally provides us with brief glimpses of what lies ahead, reminding us that our efforts are most certainly worthwhile.

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