Melissa Roberts is an English Literature undergraduate at the University of Manchester. She is in her third year and writes for a number of publications.
Representations of love: About Alex
Love. We see it in nearly every film that we watch; it doesn’t have to be a rom-com but love is always there. About Alex (2014) is a love story although perhaps not a stereotypical one. Instead it focuses on a love that is somewhat abandoned in cinema and perhaps even our perception. Friendship.
It feels as if there hasn’t been a true friendship movie since Thelma and Louise drove off of a cliff together. Even then, everything was tinged with the sense an illusive sense that “more” existed between them. Especially after the on screen kiss they share.
About Alex is undoubtedly tinged with “more”. It permeates throughout the film but not as a way to question or challenge friendship. Instead it serves to illuminate the anchor of friendship within a group. We understand the group dynamic through Alex’s tragedy, however it is the individual relationships amongst them that highlight the importance of friendship and the hold that it seems to have over everyone involved.
For an eponymously titled film very few of the interactions feature Alex himself. Furthermore other characters—that have been forced together because of the eponymous Alex—illustrate much of the films didactic function. It is in these interactions that we see how complex friendship is and why separation in a friendship forces difficulty. Separation makes them revert to what they know, and in doing so allows them to fall back into dangerous and destructive patterns. But, this is something we all do; when faced with someone from our past we revert to a version of ourselves that we associate with them.
This is a film about growing up, remembering those who shape us during that time, and what happens when we forget about the fundamental relationships in our lives. In this film we are presented with the extreme example of Alex. However, alongside this, all of the others suffer because of the frictions and eventual distances create issues within their personal lives. It is the friendships within the group that save everyone. Even though the tensions are still unresolved by the end, a greater understanding of the importance of these forgotten relationships is the greatest affirmation of friendship.
Perhaps this is the greatest message that the film attempts to deliver about friendship. Despite an apparent societal belief that friendship doesn’t require the work of romantic relationships, About Alex illuminates the intricacies and struggles innate in all of our friendships. Every relationship we have requires intimacy, love, and ultimately a friendly connection at its foundation. If that isn’t maintained, the film asks, then how do we expect to sustain healthy long-term relationships?
Watching this film made me contemplate the complexities of our relationships. I was left considering where and why we cultivate them but, rather than reaching a conclusion, I simply became more confused. Why do we cherish some friendships more than others? In the film it feels as if those who had been extremely close simply drifted apart with ease without reason. If this is the case then why do we classify this person as a best friend and then not put in any conceited effort to sustain it?
This film is evidence that friendships require constant attention and nourishment. We must always be considerate and attentive to those we choose to call friends and ensure that they give us the same dedication that we give them. Love in our personal relationships is a constant progression. It is not something that we can become complacent with. If we become complacent those we care about can quickly become a memory, rather than a reality.