Generally speaking, feel good, romantic, overly melodramatic, young good looking adult dramas… think something along the lines of an extended version of ‘Degrassi’ or ‘The O.C.’, which by mere chance features this films star Rachel Bilson… aren’t my cup of tea, generally speaking. But yet here I was sitting in front of my nice TV with the nice surround sound watching attractive young people and their problems all laid against a soundtrack of folksy acoustic guitar edged music. It’s my wife’s fault of course because she has began to howl incessantly against the stuff I usually watch so this is what she chose to view. There’s not much worse in this life, my friends, as a howling wife. And it wasn’t like director James Keach’s ‘Waiting for Forever’ was so bad or anything, but it was overly dramatic and the music was starting to grate on a nerve. Somebody put some distortion on one of those guitars, would you?
Will (Tom Sturridge) is in love with Emma (Bilson). That’s fine and all but Emma, an actress out in Hollywood, doesn’t know that Will actually exists. At least not anymore. When they were kids Will and Emma were pretty much inseparable until a tragic accident forced Will and his older brother Jim (Scott Mechlowicz) to move away from their home town and eventually the memories of childhood would fade. For Emma that is, not Will.
So for the last ten years or so, Will and his amazing hand-eye coordination skills has been supporting himself as a street performer and making it a point to be wherever Emma happens to be. Sure, you might call it stalking or mental illness, but here we call it sweetly perverse.
As it so happens Emma has to come back home as her father Richard (Richard Jenkins) is very ill and her mother Miranda (Blythe Danner) is having difficulty coping with the inevitable. With Emma being back home that means that Will is back home who thinks now is the time finally scrounge up the courage to speak to the woman he loves. There
are complications with this plan however. For starters Will’s brother Jim thinks his baby brother is crazy and he’s had about enough of his nonsense, plus Emma has her own issues to deal with. Her dying father is one problem, her overall miserable disposition is another, but also weighing her down is her boyfriend Aaron (Matthew Davis) who is crazy in love with her. Absolutely crazy in love. The kind of love where you do things that you didn’t think you were capable of doing. He’s crazier in love with her than Will is, and we’ve already established Will as a total lunatic. Aaron has followed Emma from California and wants them to be together forever, despite her transgressions against their love, but Emma is unsure about this.
Eventually Will makes his presence knows to Emma, the old memories start flowing back and Emma begins to remember the good times. Emma also begins to realize that Will is nuts. Sweetly so, but still nuts. Maybe it’s the fact that he talks to imaginary people or that eventually he confesses that he’s been following her around the country for the last ten years, but it’s pretty clear that he’s crazy. This can’t continue, Will is sad, Emma is sad, Emma’s mom will be sad, Will’s brother will shed a tear and we haven’t even gotten into the murder case. Ah, don’t worry about it. Love will prevail.
A beautiful looking movie filled with beautiful looking people, ‘Waiting for Forever’ plays every emotional note as if on cue, every tear falls about when expected and every grating folk song makes its entrance about when we would imagine it would. So in that sense there’s nothing particularly wrong with ‘Waiting for Forever’ considering it is competent and oft times engaging and I think that people who enjoy these types of films will generally get what they want.
Here’s my main problem with ‘Waiting for Forever’, and that would be that the character of Will is crazy. I’m not talking the cute, sweet, funny, touching kind of crazy but the ‘He needs to be institutionalized’ kind of crazy. The kind of crazy where the individual is one snapped synapse away from killing everybody. This is more of an issue with the way the script was designed but at what point does somebody get this kid some help? Seriously. All of the juggling and sweet smiles and wistful faraway looks and jumping on and off furniture and wearing pajamas couldn’t hide the fact that Will is nuts and he needs psychiatric help. In addition, the way the crazy was written into the character of Will was a little inconsistent. Sure, Will is a psycho. He talks to dead people who aren’t there, he wears pajamas as regular clothes and he walks in the middle of busy streets just to get a sampling of his wackiness. But he’s not so crazy that upon reconnecting with Emma he knew not to tell her that he’s been silently stalking her for around the last decade. Eventually, but after he worked her over a bit. He’s not that crazy. He’s selectively crazy which kind of makes him a sociopath. Then the movie travels down the predictable, albeit somewhat uncomfortable path of love for these characters, but I’m telling you that the way these characters are drawn that they, and that includes Emma, need to seek professional help before the pajama wearing sociopath and the actress bent on self destruction hook up for love. Disaster waiting to happen.
But then it’s all soothed over by another folk song. The truth is ‘Waiting for Forever’ is a sweet movie if you look past the mental illness and the self-destruction. Admittedly when your main character is a pajama wearing stalker with lethal lightning quick reflexes, this becomes difficult, but I think it can be done.