Sunday, 17 April 2016

Kelly & Cal

I'm going to put this here because it's important that you see it. All four of you. Ordinarily it would sit in my film blog but even the four of you don't bother with that. You don't want to have Star Wars ruined for you, or something. I have news for you. I didn't ruin Star Wars for you, that was JJ Fucking Abrams.

Anyway this kind of fits here too. Where better to tell you about a film which tries to deal with some very similar issues as Memoirs Of A Fire Hazard endeavours to do? Kelly And Cal tells the story of the relationship that develops between the mother of a new-born baby and her wheelchair-using teenage neighbour. She, Kelly that is, is played by Juliette Lewis who I love. She's beautiful in that interesting way that the likes of Rihanna and Cheryl Whateverhernameisthisweek could never be. And as she shows here she's supremely talented. She's also mad, but not in an 'all women are mad' way but a quirky way.

As we'll see there's much that resonates about Kelly And Cal for me. That would be the reason that I'm up writing at 1.20am. However it is not a perfect film. For starters, the way in which Kelly and Cal's relationship begins is utterly implausible. She's in her back garden having a smoke and he's peering over the fence. After bludging a cigarette from her he tells her she has nice tits. As opening gambits go it's not up there for me, that one. Kelly tends to agree and is about to admonish Cal until she looks over the fence more closely. This is when she sees him rolling away down a ramp and when she sees the wheelchair for the first time. She confides in husband Josh about this and resolves to apologise to Cal the next day. She shouldn't have shouted at the boy in the wheelchair. But the idea that she should feel guilty about his rudeness because of his disability just isn't a realistic one. It certainly isn't my experience of what's happened when I've been rude to women. To pretend that Cal is justified is to make him a victim regardless of his behaviour. Or it could just be me. Maybe you can say what you like when you are as handsome as Cal, played by Jonny Weston.

Josh doesn't get essily offended by Cal either, and this is something I can identify with. As Kelly and Cal's relationship develops Josh doesn't even have the decency to feel threatened. And it's not even because his relationship with Kelly is that rock solid. They argue over the fact that they haven't resumed their sexual relationship since the birth of their son Jackson (it's Juliette Lewis, you idiot). Yet despite Josh's insecurities he still sees no problem with Cal turning up on his front doorstep suited and booted and ready to take Kelly out to a swanky dinner. I rarely do swanky dinners but I have, in my distant past, blatantly snogged the face off a woman right in front of her fella's face. And he was one of those Rottweiller boyfriends, eight feet tall and twice as wide. An able-bodied man would have been beaten half to death by him in my situation. I'd have taken that just to feel respected by him. Threatened. Like I was in the game. At the time I probably laughed at my own audacity, but I know it wasn't long after before I realised that actually I was being mocked.

Josh doesn't get the funk on until Cal, who it turns out is an artist, creates a sculpture of a topless Kelly having seen her undressing in her bedroom window one night. He has a telescope which is a fairly offensive characterisation of the disabled as Peeping Toms, as if that's how we're getting our kicks since we're not getting much else. He does get fairly close to Kelly. At the school after they've vandalised it in protest at 'bullshit proms' or something. But then the police come and Cal's moment goes. Before that there's the cliched conversation about whether Cal can have sex that seems to be a mandatory part of any romance dealing with disability. It's almost always done awkwardly and it's no different here.

The sculpture scenario does provide what was for me the film's comedy highlight. For reasons I won't go into Cal has to steal back possession of his creation. He's spotted by Kelly pushing away from the scene with the thing laid out across his knee. He's wearing a balaclava in a bid not to be identified which is just hilarious. It illustrates perfectly how being the only wheelchair user in the village will get you banged to rights. This has happened to me at work. If any other member of our team gives out duff information the unfortunate recipient can't identify who gave it to them. The best they can do is tell us whether it was a man or a woman. But when it is 'the one in the wheelchair' there's nowhere really to hide. Luckily we don't operate in a culture of blame but you get the point. Sometimes the worst thing about disability is the inability to blend in and go un-noticed. Like being a celebrity only without money or girls. Like Ian Fucking Brady.

Cal comes across as a bit of a childish tit when he doesn't get his own way with Kelly in the end. As a leading authority on being a childish tit I thought they took this a bit too far anyway. He's clearly bonkers about her by the end but he still finds time to call her old and saggy and offer tips on how she might make herself more attractive to Josh during one spectacular blow-up. Is this really what you would say to someone you love, even with a skinful of ale down you? Doubtful. At a stretch you could maybe make the argument that he's just passionate about her. There are those couples who stay together despite arguing constantly and seemingly being constantly on the verge of a break-up. I suppose anything is possible if you're a childish tit.

For all its faults Kelly And Cal is a thought-provoking attempt to examine disability and romance, and more particularly romance in which disability isn't the only potential barrier. But you don't need to see it now, anyway.

Cheers, it's now 2.00am. Sleep well.

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