Saturday, February 4, 2017

How Anne Hathaway's filmography shaped my teens

There are a few movies that I watched over and over again when I was in high school, and somehow many of them have actress Anne Hathaway in the lead. I didn't realize this until later, but it got me questioning: Does Anne Hathaway choose to play in awesome movies, or does she make movies awesome? I'm pretty sure it's a combination of both. Anyway, I adore many films starring Anne Hathaway and I now believe that these films were significantly important in my journey that's called puberty. Even though many of these films seem typical feel-good teen movies without significant meaning, when one looks closely, some wise life lessons may be learned.

The Princess Diaries 
I first got to know Anne Hathaway as Mia Thermopolis, a rather unpopular and insecure high school girl. Yet her sarcastic attitude, awesome attic bedroom in an old firehouse (including cat Fat Louie), her clumsiness, and her Ford Mustang, made me look up to her. When all of a sudden Mia turns out to be a princess and heir to the throne, she is forced to make the decision of her life: will she accept the crown or not? In the middle of this whirlpool of confusion, it becomes very clear that Mia is just a teenager after all, and the film smoothly addresses multiple teen problems to which we all could relate: jealousy, unrequited crushes, people who make use of you, relationships between mother-daughter and grandmother-granddaughter, humiliation, letting people down, and a first kiss. All these things are cleverly put together in one story with well developed characters. We can learn a great deal from Mia struggling her way through puberty. I love Anne Hathaway's portrayal of Mia Thermopolis and the whole film is super hilarious, too. 

The Devil Wears Prada
In The Devil Wears Prada it wasn't really Anne Hathaway's character Andy, but rather Meryl Streep's Miranda Priestly that intrigued me. Andy is the personal assistant from Miranda, who is the editor-in-chief of a fashion magazine. It's a terrible job, but doing this job for one year opens up many doors in the journalism world. Andy is not a fashionable type of girl, and at the beginning she sticks to being her unfashionable self. This is seen as stubborn, and later she decides to change her ways in order to please her boss and show her dedication to her job. This seems kinda weak at first, but the message that I got out of it is: if you want to make a great career, you've got to sacrifice everything else and choose for yourself, including choices at the expense of others. Co-worker Nigel simply tells Andy: "Let me know when your life goes up in smoke. Means it's time for a promotion." If this is true in real life as well, that'd be frightening - but I'm sure this is unfortunately true for some jobs at least. A focus on where you want to be is important in achieving your goals, and other things in your life may distract you from that goal. Then sometimes balance is not enough.

Bride Wars
Bride Wars is the very movie that kindles the innate desire in a young girl to marry one day. As children, best friends Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Liv (Kate Hudson) witness a wedding in the Plaza Hotel in June, and are determined to marry in the same place and in the same month one day. Ever since they keep a box full of 'Wedding things' and dream about their wedding. When the time comes they are to marry, they're wedding is accidentally scheduled for the same day. Neither one of the girls wants to change dates, resulting in an actual 'bride war'. It's painful that two friends who have dreamed of their weddings together so much have it spoiled like this, but in the end it brings them closer. Eventually we see how the fight between the two girls has changed them for the better, making Liv more vulnerable and Emma more assertive. I'm pretty sure it was this movie that made me prefer a traditional wedding and gave me all the great wedding ideas: a Vera Wang wedding dress, a Tiffany's engagement ring, and "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue".

Love & Other Drugs
Somehow Anne Hathaway is in the best romantic films around. I like these films in which it is not from the beginning totally obvious that two people want to be together blinded by love, but can't because of some parent or other constraint - in Love & Other Drugs, the guy is a womanizer who is only after sex, while the girl is not very impressed by the womanizer's attempts and at the same time scared to be in an actual relationship as she has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. The guy, Jamie (played by super cute Jake Gyllenhaal) and the girl, Maggie (Anne Hathaway) get into a sex-only relationship until Jamie begins to show symptoms of having grown actual feelings for Maggie. Maggie, convinced this is not going to work out as her disease will only get worse, tends to hold him off, but Jamie is not going to give up - including trying to take on the impossible task of making Maggie better, until he finally realizes that he would rather have Maggie just the way she is than anything else in the world. A delightful story to see. Maggie might be my favorite character portrayed by Anne Hathaway: she is down to earth, not easy to seduce, creative, strong despite her disease, and I love her hair & style and her cosy studio that she lives in. Perhaps it is the way Anne Hathaway plays this role, but it seems as if Maggie is a lot smarter and in-depth than the girls you usually see in romantic comedies. This is indeed a romantic comedy, yet it is different from its kind in that it contains multiple emotional moments and serious conversations, showing the bond between Jamie and Maggie grow stronger. The strong chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway is certainly in operation here, too. So this movie taught me a lot about what love should be like, how hard and many-sided it can be, and how you do not always fall in love with a bang, but sometimes very carefully and thought-through instead.

One Day
Great romantic movie number two. I loved this film so much because it is about how life can turn out in a way so different than you had imagined for yourself. This film shows one specific day in different years over the course of 18, showing how the relationship between two friends has developed over the past few years. It is clear that they could be together, but the choices they have made in life keeps them apart while the years fade away. It is the ugly truth that even if you want someone very badly, it doesn't imply that you'll eventually end up with that person due to certain circumstances, finding yourself years later in a position where you had never thought you would ever find yourself. You see them struggle and hurt over the years, and it makes you realize: this is what it's going to be like, it isn't perfect or easy or meant to be, but the very task of life is to accept that this is what life is. 

Les Misérables
First I saw the musical on stage, then I watched the film, and then I read the book, so I could go on and on about Les Mis and what a wonderful creation that is, but for now let's just focus on Anne Hathaway's role. Even though this may have been her smallest part so far, it may be her greatest anyway. Particularly because of her amazing solo 'I Dreamed A Dream', which was sung by her right at the spot and in one take. That song by her was so incredibly done, so very touching, so raw - a true proof of Anne Hathaway's immense talent and the very establishment of her as a great actress. 

The intern
I first saw The Intern in a movie theater in Prague, and I immediately adored Anne Hathaway's role of Jules Ostin - a freakin badass girlboss, who runs an incredibly successful online webshop for clothes, something that she is so passionate about and that she achieved through hard working and great focus on her goals. Jules Ostin inspired me a lot in terms of career achievement and long term goals. I mentioned this character before in my blog post "5 female TV/movie characters who have my dream jobs". Jules may not exactly have my dream job, but her company and success a certainly inspirational to me. The most important message that I got from this movie, is that it is so important to listen to yourself and believe in yourself, and not let anyone direct your choices.

I'm pretty sure these Anne Hathaway films were in play in shaping me into the person I am today, either by teaching me something about life or something about myself. Anne Hathaway herself was certainly important in attracting me to these films and making me watch them so often. Nowadays I do not only appreciate Anne Hathaway for her acting skills, but also for the person she is outside of Hollywood. I like that she seems so very down-to-earth even with all the fame. It appears to me that she sees acting as her job, not as a way to gain fame for herself. She makes perfect use of her position as a celebrity to express her ideals and stimulate political participation in her followers - something I would do if only I would have as many followers as she does.

Which Anne Hathaway films did you watch & what do you think of it?

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