Susan Mihalic

Susan Mihalic
Birthday
August 05
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Writer & editor. Passionate about freedom of expression. Liberal, aspiring to be pointy-headed. Follow me on Twitter: @susanmihalic.

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MARCH 12, 2010 9:29PM

What Words Will Haunt Me?

Rate: 20 Flag

Spoiler alert: If you’re on OS, and particularly if you’re reading my blog, I’m thinking you’re not likely to see Robert Pattinson’s new film, “Remember Me,” so this may not be much of a spoiler for you. However, if you plan to stand in line in the rain to buy tickets for this thing, stop reading right now, because in the next few words, I’m going to tell you what happens: He dies in this movie. 

You couldn’t pay me to sit through this. I’ve seen all I need to see in the trailer and the TV spots: brooding misunderstood young people (oh, please), grunge plaid, and some moldy shower-tile grout (presumably symbolic of the fact that brooding young people are too evolved to use a little Tilex). 

I’ve also heard all I need to hear, and I can sum it up with this line, which Pattinson utters in a voiceover (cue acoustic guitar in the background, because acoustic guitar is, you know, socially conscious): “If I knew you could hear me, I would say our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.” 

I can’t be certain Pattinson’s character is speaking from the hereafter when he says this, but “If I knew you could hear me” implies that either he’s dead or his love interest is in a coma, and since I know he dies, I assume it’s the former. “I would say our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch” implies something, too: deplorable writing. 

The boyfriend and I saw the TV spot last night. I turned to him and said, “If you die before I do, you’d better not haunt me with some lame-ass shit like, ‘If I knew you could hear me, I would say our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.’” 

“No problem,” he said. “What do you want me to haunt you with?”

“I don’t know. Something that tells me it’s really you.”

“Such as?”

“Well . . . you’d probably say something like, ‘Hey, baby, have you seen my car keys?’ I don’t know where you’re planning to drive in the afterlife, but I’d know for sure it was you. Or maybe, ‘We don’t have any chocolate.’ Then I know it was you, and I’d know you were in hell. What would I need to say for you to know it was me?”

“Whatever it is,” he said, “you’d better start it with, ‘Goddammit, baby.’”

That’s very true. That phrase prefaces many things I say to him: “Goddammit, baby, you left the milk out. Goddammit, baby, don’t flush the toilet while I’m in the shower.”

Reading these words here, you may think I’m a shrew, but that’s because you can’t hear how I say them—admittedly with a little exasperation, but also with the love that develops in a 17-year relationship if you’re lucky, and if you are committed to one another, and if you always want what’s best for the other person.

“Goddammit, baby” is a lot more us than “If I knew you could hear me, I would say our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.” Dead or alive, if the boyfriend ever said anything to me that was remotely that idiotic, I’d snort. If I ever said anything like that to him, he’d howl.

An affectionate “Goddammit, baby,” the occasional snort, the eternal search for his car keys . . . that’s real life. It’s real love. It’s the difference between an authentic relationship and deplorably bad dialogue.

I will say this, however. After seeing that TV spot a few times, I’ve gained new respect for Robert Pattinson. Just try saying that line out loud. Go ahead: “If I knew you could hear me, I would say our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.” Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

Now try a line that’s a little more authentic—which is pretty much any line you can think of. Just start it with “Goddammit, baby,” and feel the love.

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Comments

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Seriously. What is Chris Cooper doing in this movie?
Based on this review, I just have one thing to say about the sound of this movie....

PUKE!!!
Studman, really, I'm only reviewing a line of dialogue because I haven't seen the movie, but why should I let that prevent me from making a snap judgment? I mean, a line of dialogue that bad has to permeate the whole experience, don't you think?
Goddamit this is so good!
If that's a line the advertisers chose to reflect the tone of the entire movie, then yes, it seems reasonable to make a judgment based on that line. Now, it is entirely possible that the movie is being improperly advertised, but the writer certainly gave the advertisers the opportunity to misinterpret the message in that case
Delicious writing ~ won't see the movie, didn't plan to, but didn't need to to enjoy this post.
I'm going to try "Goddammit baby" on my boyfriend this week. I like it!
Brown Eyed Girl, thank you.

Gabby Abby, yeah, it's not one I plan to see, either, but that one line of dialogue is so appallingly tin-eared and overwrought that I had to put in my two cents.

Sweetfeet, make sure to deliver the line with affection!
Susan, this short tale was very smart. I mean that. You decimated what should be, and you showed us your love and all so concisely. r
wendyo, thank you for reading and for your comment.
wow, this is good.

I don't want the last romantic thing he's (never) said to me...
to be about leaving an oily print on my skin.
Thanks, Amanda. Another annoying thing about that line: What's with "If I knew you could hear me" and "I would say"? If you must say the sappy line, say it without the filler. It's no less sappy, but it's mercifully shorter.
Goddammit, baby! You did it again. You made it look so easy to say with humor and a few, well-chosen words what others - like our insipid screenwriter, in this example - make ponderous and treacly.
yeah, if you're not sure I can hear you... yell. I should jump.
Penny, thank you, ma'am. Can you imagine anyone in No Coast Writers letting one of us get away with a line like that?

Amanda, exactly!
This is really good. The inside joke term of endearments that, out of context, would sound anything but... Well written!
I must admit, Susan, I thought you'd sucked me in to read a movie review (I rarely go to movies so I don't read movie reviews.) As I read on, I discovered your true intent of this piece. I'm glad I hung in there. You beautifully illustrate how life's most endearing terms are nothing like Hollywood's version - thankfully!
I am adopting this perfect phrase! It's the ingenius "baby" that makes it affectionate instead of accusatory. I have a feeling my husband will warm to it quickly. As for the movie, I think I'll skip it :)
Goddammit, baby; I loved this! ;)
Pattinson is just doing what comes naturally to him. But that is a lame line, and I would know, I have used a few of my own.
Gwool, thanks. Context is everything! I love how couples who are together a long time develop their own culture. It truly is unique to each couple.

Lisa, thanks for hanging in there. The boyfriend and I wouldn't mind a little Hollywood--like, say, winning the lottery--but they can keep their screenwriting. Or at least this particular screenwriter.

Karin, thanks. When I was writing this, it crossed my mind that people would think I was verbally abusive. I'm glad it's clear that the term really is an endearment. (And just think--no oily fingerprints required.)

Cartouche, thank you!
Geraint, I think there's a blog in there somewhere. Lamest line I ever heard (not in a screenplay): "I'm not Bashful, and you're not Snow White." Ewwww.
Your excellent and hilarious piece reminds me of the opening line from Erich Segal's "Love Story," a megahit tearjerker from back in the Pleistocene era.

"What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died?"

My first thought was, "Geez, I hope somebody buried her."
When I die, I'm coming back to haunt a casino in maybe Las Vegas, throw chips around at random numbers, and make slot machines to pay off a lot more!! ;)
Jeff, your comment made me laugh out loud. I was around during the Pleistocene, and I thought "Love Story" was terrible--and badly acted.

Tink, I'll see you on the strip.
Well, I've been listening for something from my husband for over 6 months now...not happening...heck he doesn't even show up in my dreams...so glad I read this!
R
Buffy, thanks for reading. Maybe you can prod him: "Goddammit, baby--are you going to say something or not?"
Enjoyed this read very much. Thank you. ~R~
I registered to this site simply for the fact of commenting on this blog.

Don't judge this movie by its trailer. The trailer leaves MUCH to be desired by way of previewing the movie. This movie is amazing, and you really shouldn't talk crap about it if you haven't seen it.

Robert Pattinson does an amazing job in this movie, and if you're worried about him ruining because of his performances in the Twilight movies (horrible, I know) then you shouldn't be. He does an amazing job. And, yes, he dies. But if you WATCHED the movie, you would learn why it is titled "Remember Me"

Its not titled that way to remember the love interest. And when he says that quote, "If I knew you could hear me, I would say our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch," is not him talking from the hereafter.

That's all I'm going to say, because the big surprise isn't that he dies... its the WAY he dies.

Just watch it. And if you still don't like it, then I give you permission to send me spam-mail.

But go into it with an open mind!
What a great review. Yet another $8 I don't have to spend. Thank you!
erobles, thanks for reading. As I mentioned in a previous comment, I'm not reviewing the movie; I'm reviewing a badly written line of dialogue. (And I do know how Pattinson's character dies.)

Sally, thanks.
A very funny post. Guess I won't be seeing this one. rated.
Thanks, Caroline. My tolerance for brooding misunderstood young people is low. My tolerance for bad dialogue is lower.
He: "Why, why are you still with me?"
She: "I want to be your everything. I want you to control me. I want our hearts to be sealed forever."
He: "Whoa, whoa Goddammit Baby, I said I was a Vampire, not a Mormon."
DH, I'm laughing out loud.
Pattinson was alive when he said the fingerprints quote..and he was saying it to his dead brother..and yeah, its a sappy quote but his brother killed himself so clearly his brother did not know the real imprint he left on the people he loved...If your boyfriend was so troubled that he killed himself i am sure you would not say something immature about finding the car keys...you would want them more than anything to know that they mattered...the movies great, and this shits real, it's all about death.
AH876, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.
I've had similar thoughts about that line when I see the previews - while conceptually a nice sentiment, it seems too overwrought!
Kristin, thanks. There's no idea so good (or sentiment so heartfelt) that can't be rendered tone-deaf by poor writing.