Friday, September 23, 2005

Laboratory Experiments

What, exactly, is chemistry?

I don't mean the branch of science that involves Bunsen burners and test tubes. I'm talking about the heat between two characters that makes us want them to rip each other's clothes off and get down to business as soon as reasonably possible.

Last night I watched A Knight's Tale (and by now I imagine you all think I sure watch a lot of movies, which I do - usually a couple a week), and I just couldn't get behind the romance thread between the hero, William (played by Heath Ledger) and heroine, Jocelyn (played by Shannyn Sossamon). It wasn't that their romance wasn't realistic as defined by any movie so far out as this one. It's not that the actors aren't gorgeous people. And it wasn't that I didn't buy their romance. I simply wasn't moved by it in any way. Never did I feel all mushy inside when they finally kissed or more, nor did I much care either way if she wed the hero or the hero's arch-enemy. Just kind of a meh feeling to the whole thing. Not a rewind moment in the whole movie.

And I chalk this up to a lack of chemistry. Never did these two characters - or it might be the actors - sizzle in any way. Except I honestly cannot put my finger on what was missing.

I do think it does have a lot to do with the actors. Something in the way they translate a role onto the screen, the way they interact with each other, just works in all the right ways.

Couples who sizzle - and this is in no particular order, just as they pop into my head.

Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy (Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth) in the BBC/A&E version of Pride and Prejudice. It'll be interesting to see if Keira Knightly and Matthew MacFadyen in the new movie-length version coming out in November this year have even half the chemistry of Jennifer and Colin. Honestly, as much as I want to love this interpretation, I'm not holding my breath.

Justin Taylor and Brian Kinney (Randy Harrison and Gale Harold) of Queer As Folk. I won't elaborate on this since I've gone on and on and on about it before. No one can accuse me of being repetitive.

Buffy Summers and Spike (Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Marsters) of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Remember that part about me not being repetitive? Applies here as well. Except, I have to say that I think James Marsters could probably generate chemistry with a cardboard box, so this one is kind of no fair. I mean, Sarah Michelle is not bad, but James, well, he makes this one.

Princess Leia and Hans Solo (Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford) in Star Wars Episodes IV, V, and VI. God, didn't you just want to applaud out loud during Empire Strikes Back when Hans pushes Leia up against the bulkhead of the Millennium Falcon and just lays one on her? Swash my buckle indeed! Except, in later years as I've watched Harrison Ford in other movies, I've noticed that he doesn't seem like he's a very good kisser. I'm sure it has a lot to do with feeling awkward about kissing a woman you don't love in front of a whole bunch of cameras, but he always looks so stiff. No offense, Harrison. I still love you.

OT - You know who's a great on-screen kisser? Keanu Reeves. Lawdy. When he kisses the girl, the man looks like he's entered eternal bliss. If you can get your hands on it, watch him at the end of Speed macking on Sandra Bullock. And in The Matrix Reloaded, the lovemaking scene between Neo and Trinity (Carry-Anne Moss)...whew. Oh, and in A Walk In the Clouds, after the grape stomping scene when he and Aitana Sanchez-Gijon go back to their bedroom and finally, finally just doesn't get any better.

But I digress.

Joshua Lyman and Donna Moss (Bradley Whitford and Janel Moloney) of The West Wing. Now, this is a huge well of untapped chemistry. For six years, Donna and Josh have been circling each other, drawing closer but then pulling way back. It's a tease on the grandest scale, and I'm not even sure I'd ever want anything to come of it because these two could fall victim to the Moonlighting Syndrome. Even so, my heart aches every time they come thisclose...

There are dozens of smaller-scale Chemistry Majors out there but I really don't have time to compile an exhaustive list. As I look back over the above, I do see a trend in that all of these pairings had to fight to exist. There always involved a healthy portion of unrealized sexual tension between the characters. And while I do give a lot of credit to the writers and creators who brought these people into existence and forced them to suffer all of this angst and frustration, I still hold that chemistry needs more than UST.

Which brings me full circle in wondering, exactly, what factor X must be there to affect me.

I might not be able to name it, but I know it when I see it. And I miss it when it's not there.

1 comment:

meljean brook said...

Scully and Mulder are my faves.

Now I'm hyperventilating just thinking about it.