The movie, Look Who’s Talking, is a chef-d’oeuvre love story delivered through comedy as directed by Amy Heckerling. The plot revolves around Mollie, a single mother, and her son, Mikey. Mollie falls in illegitimate love with Albert, a married man with two kids. The fruit of this forbidden affair is the conception of Mikey, who is born to a cruel world of fatherlessness as Albert dumps Mollie for his interior decorator,
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Melissa. The shocking news of being dumped throws Mollie into labor pain along the road. Luckily, a Good Samaritan cum a taxi driver, James Ubriacco, is around and he rushes the laboring woman to the hospital for safe delivery. Mikey is born and he immediately starts making commentary concerning his life through the voice of Bruce Willis. Mollie is heartbroken as she has to bring up her son single-handedly, but she vows never to love a man based on charm or handsomeness.
James, the taxi driver, ultimately draws closer to Mollie and Mikey and he eventually becomes the father figure in the family. Mikey meets Albert, his father, but they cannot form a healthy son-father relationship due to the failed love between the parents. The true subject of the film is love and this paper explores this theme to highlight how different elements like narrative, acting, and cinematography among others contribute to it.
The true subject or theme of the film, and what kind of statement, if any, does the film make about the subject? Which elements and which scenes contribute most to addressing the theme of the film?
As mentioned earlier, the central theme of this film is love. The element of romantic love comes out in this film as an overpowering force that cannot be resisted through choice. Mollie falls in love with Albert even though she knows he is a married man. She even believes the common lie that Albert is going to leave his wife and children for her. Mollie fails to understand that if Albert can leave his wife for her, he is sending the implicit message that he can also abandon her for another woman.
This scenario plays out shortly as Albert dumps Mollie for Melissa, his interior designer. The film makes the statement that one cannot decide whom to fall in love with when Mollie echoes the same sentiments to her mother, Rosie.
However, Rosie insinuates that love is not an emotion but a choice that one has to make. She tells Mollie that deciding whom to love is like choosing to stop taking one’s favorite food when the doctor says it is harmful to health. For a while, Mollie seems to believe her mother’s words and she decides not to love again based on charm. However, she fails again when she falls in love with James even though she fights the relationship fruitlessly before settling down as a couple. Romantic love comes out clearly in the scene where Mollie is falling for Albert to the point of having sexual intercourse.
This theme also stands out when Albert flirts with Melissa before admitting he would leave his wife for her. James and Mollie become intimate during a flying lesson and even though she backs down after foreshadowing how their lives would be together, the theme of romantic love is evident.
The film depicts another form of love – family love. Mollie vows to love a man who can become the best daddy for Mikey. She states categorically that she would not marry out of love, but for the best interests of her son. This kind of love surpasses emotions – it is born out of a sense of obligation and Mollie knows that the responsibility of taking care of Mikey lies within her own hands. Also, at the delivery ward, the film shows other married men celebrating the birth of their babies, which is a strong depiction of family love. Similarly, towards the end of the film, James is thrilled at the birth of Julie, their angelic daughter. In another scene, James is seen taking care of his aging grandfather, Vincent, by putting him in a decent care home.
How all separate elements of the film relate to and contribute to the theme, central purpose, or total effect?
Narrative – How the story is told. What is the plot structure? Is it chronological or non-linear? Are there flashbacks or other narrative devices and why are they used?
The plot takes a chronological order of narration, which fits well into the central theme of love. In the beginning, Mollie is wildly in love with Albert, who dumps her for Melissa. Out of the ensuing heartbreak, Mollie goes into labor and coincidentally meets James, who rushes her to the hospital for delivery. Despite meeting inadvertently, James and Mollie finally settle down as a happy couple and they get a beautiful daughter in the end.
The linear nature of the plot highlights the undying nature of romantic love. One can suppress love, but it will triumph ultimately. After Albert dumps Mollie, she vows never to love again, but love wins once more when she falls for James. The use of foreshadowing also works to reinforce the unrelenting nature of romantic love. When Mollie gets intimate with James after the flying lesson, she imagines how terrible their lives would be together and she resists his moves. The director uses this foreshadowing to show how Mollie cannot resist love for long. Ultimately, love prevails and Mollie gives in to James’ romantic gestures and they move in as a couple.
The director also uses metaphor to reinforce the theme of romantic love. Mollie’s mother, Rosie, likens the act of choosing a lover to abandon one’s favorite dish because the doctor says so. Rosie insinuates that pursuing romantic love is futile but Mollie avers that one cannot choose between abandoning romantic pursuits. In the end, Mollie proves her mother wrong by finding a soul mate and settling down in marriage. Once again, love conquers the fears and doubts of heartbreak.
Additionally, the film utilizes music to emphasize the theme of romantic love. Love songs are chosen and used strategically in scenes where romance dominates. For instance, the use of the soundtrack, “I Love You So” by Morris Levy in the scene where Albert and Mollie make out brings out the theme of romantic love. Likewise, “Let My Love Open the Door” is used in the scene where Mollie gets intimate with James before backing down. The lyrics of the song breathe love into Mollie’s heart especially where the singer says, “I can stop you falling apart…try today you’ll find this way…”. Molly seems scared of loving James, but the music speaks to her heart, that she should not fear to love again even after her earlier heartbreak.
Acting – the qualities of the performances. Is the acting realistic or is it mannered? Are the characters dynamic (do they change as the film progresses)? How?
The actors are just the way people in love behave. As the movie opens, Mollie is deeply in love with Albert, but the reality of the sweet-bitter nature of romance sets in when she is dumped. Afterward, she vows to be careful when loving due to her broken heart. This form of acting is realistic as people normally vow never to love again especially after a painful breakup. Nothing could hurt pregnant Mollie more than being dumped for another woman and thus her cold and changed perception towards love thereafter is understandable. The characters do not change as the film progresses.
Cinematography – The qualities of photography and lighting. Identify specific scenes and camera shots that you thought were particularly interesting
The scene where James waltzes around with Mikey is quite interesting in this love story. In most cases, babies in movie shots simply play out their roles without focusing on the director’s instructions. However, in this scene, Mikey seems to understand the perfect intention of the camera shot and he waltzes around as if he has read the director’s mind. Similarly, the photography and lighting techniques used in the scene where Mollie turns down James’ romantic gesture after the flying lesson are fascinating. As Mollie brushes aside the kiss that she is sharing with James, the camera shot captures her face with brokenness and fear written all over. The audience can appreciate the reasons behind her move as heartbreak and doubt are registered on her face.
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Editing – The pace and tempo, the use of transitions, and the organization of the narrative. Identify any editing technique you thought was particularly interesting
Smash cut is one of the fascinating editing techniques employed in this film. In this technique, the editor transitions between different scenes without disrupting the flow of the story. For instance, Mollie collapses into labor pains after learning that Albert is moving in with Melissa. However, the editor uses smash cut to transition between Albert snuggling around with Melissa while Mollie writhes in pain on road pavement and later in a taxi on the way to the hospital. The audience feels the pain of love by being exposed to two contrasting outcomes on one’s choices concerning romance.
Art Direction and Design – Locations, sets, effects, props, costumes, and make-up
The choice of shooting James’ romantic gestures towards Mollie on a plane during a flying lesson fits well into the theme of love. It appears romantic for James to get cozy midair with the girl he has been admiring since they met. Similarly, four different kids play the role of Mikey to fit in his fast-growing nature now that he has to come out as an adult living in a baby’s body and live up to Bruce Willis’ voice.
What scenes in the film show the director’s style and how do they show it?
Amy Heckerling, the film’s director, is highly creative and if it were not for her wild imagination, Look Who’s Talking would have turned out as another boring soap opera. However, Heckerling twists the film’s plot to include comedy and deliver the intended themes. For instance, in the scene where Albert shows up at Mollie’s place to see Mikey only to meet Albert, the director uses creativity to assert her style. Instead of the normal chitchat between an absent father and the head of the family, James subjects Albert to a series of questions on Mikey’s life and as expected, all the answers are wrong.
What were your reactions to the film? What are your reasons for liking or disliking the film?
I think that the film is a masterpiece as it raises crucial societal issues through comedy. Single mothers go through tough times by raising children on their own. A single mother faces the crisis of loving again without the surety of whether the new man will love the child as his own. Mollie faces this dilemma hence the vow not to love based on emotions but on what is best for Mikey. I like the film because ultimately Heckerling proves that love conquers all fears and it is probably the best thing to pursue in this life. The movie ends on a happy note knowing that Mikey can now enjoy the warmth of a family and grow up as a normal child enjoying all the good things that come with childhood.