Boston College Heights
Take the ‘What Do I Want?’ challenge
Arts & Review editors invite you to a dose of self-help through film
By: Joseph Neese
“What do I want?” These four words are posted above my computer in the Heights office. It’s a challenge that I’ve designed for myself and one that we at The Heights hope that you’ll partake in, too.
This journey started two weeks ago when I went to Loews Cinema at Boston Common on a cold Saturday night to see Diane English’s latest work, The Women. The film, which is a remake of the classic 1959 version, deals with the trials and tribulations of rich, powerful women who live in New York City.
Naturally, these women are forces to be reckoned with. They can control almost every aspect of their lives, with the exception of their relationships. At the center of the plot is Meg Ryan’s character, Mary Haines, whose husband is having an affair with the “spritzer girl” at Saks Fith Avenue. Mary is a strong woman in every capacity of her life, but in this situation, she seeps into a clinical depression and ceases to really live her life.
Eventually Mary goes to a self-help clinic for women. The program doesn’t help her, but someone that she meets there leaves an indelible mark on her. That someone is Bette Midler, who as Leah “The Countess” Miller, delivers a tour-de-force scene. She’s high on marijuana, but she gives a piece of advice to Mary that’s better than any that she’s ever gotten in her life. As Leah told Mary, the only way that she will ever be happy again is if she asks herself, “What do I want?” Mary allows herself to waste away because she’s not living for herself – she’s living for a man who is controlling every aspect of her life.
Mary goes back to New York, and she takes a peg board and cuts out the crucial four words from different magazines and places them on it. It’s the start of a collage that helps her claim her life back. She’s a fashion designer, but she’s wasted her talent designing clothes for her father’s fashion company that she would herself never wear. So, she comes back to the board with fabric and pictures that help her find her inspiration. And eventually she does what she always wanted to do in life – start her own fashion line.
I’ve had a Mary experience. No, I’ve never been married or suffered from clinical depression. But, I recently got out of a long-term relationship and moving on hasn’t been that simple for me. Thankfully, I had a Leah in the form of my mom, who experienced Mary’s same situation and was there to give me the same sort of advice.
Getting my first Lacoste polo provided some temporary relief, but I know that the journey back to selfdom has just begun. So, I’m following Mary’s lead, having cut out the four words. And, I’m embarking on a semester-long journey to fill out my collage and discover what I want.
I invite you to e-mail me and partake in this journey with me. I feel that here at Boston College we spend so much time being “men and women for others” – whether it’s significant others or friends – that we don’t really take the time to make ourselves happy.
When I publish the results of my journey at the end of the semester, I’ll make a call for your own. The best will be published in the paper as well as be taken to dinner and a movie with the Arts editors.
Go see The Women, because it’s amazing, and embark on this journey with me. Ask yourself, “What do I want?”