Film Friday: Café Society

Set in 1930s Hollywood this is a tale of unrequited love. Bobby moves from New York to Hollywood to work for his uncle Phil, an agent to the movie stars. He is not there long before he meets and immediately falls for uncle Phil’s secretary, Veronica. Bobby is besotted, and even though Veronica tells him she already has a boyfriend called Jeff, he does his best to win her heart. Jeff often travels away so Veronica has time to be courted by the lovesick Bobby.

However, all is not what it seems, because not only is Veronica not really in love with a travelling guy called Jeff, she is actually in love with a powerful, rich agent to the Hollywood stars. That’s right. Bobby’s Uncle Phil. Her boss. It takes a while for Bobby to get the picture, but when he does he is of course just a wee bit shattered. Veronica must make that tough decision about the two men who love her. This story may not end well…

When king’s daughter Michal met a young shepherd called Dave she fell for him. The way Bobby fell for Veronica. For a while all looked well, her dad happily agreed to the wedding and Michal and Dave exchanged rings and promises. Yay! Let the credits roll, stop the movie now, let’s leave the cinema feeling happy and rosy. But the film rolls on, and we discover that her dad is insecure and manipulating. When he sends a cohort of ugly soldiers to rough up her new hubby, quick-thinking Michal hastily hatches a plan and hurls her hubby out of the window to safety. She then makes up a story to cover his tracks. This girl will do whatever it takes to protect her man.

However, the days tick by and morph into months and young Dave doesn’t return, neither does he text, email or snapchat. What’s become of him? Michal does not know. Her heart is in turmoil and insult is added to injury when her dad marries her off to another man. A wedding of convenience. More manipulation. This is the road to hell for Michal. Little by little the negative graffiti is being scrawled across her heart. This story may not end well. One of the things I like about the Bible (you can find Michal and David’s epic story in the Old Testament book of 1 Kings, chapters 18, 19 and 25) is that it is honest about hardships and disappointments. To quote a line from Café Society, ‘Life has its own agenda.’ And often it seems to ambush our well laid plans, hopes and dreams. The writers of the Bible knew this well and do not gloss over it. Stories like that of David and Michal remind us that it is not a book full of shiny, happy saints. But real, three-dimensional people who are faced with earthly, and earthy, reality. They live with turmoil, anguish, mistakes and misdemeanours. The biblical people are people whose lives are not easy. These are people like Bobby, like many of us, at times wrestling with distress and disappointment. To finish, a couple of quotes from Psalm 6 and Psalm 42, heartfelt prayers about life and the difficult times: “I am worn out from sobbing. Every night tears drench my bed; my pillow is wet from weeping. My vision is blurred by grief; my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies.”
“O God my rock,” I cry, “Why have you forsaken me? Why must I wander in darkness, oppressed by my enemies? Their taunts pierce me like a fatal wound…”

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