Streaming Showcase: How to Survive a Quarterlife Crisis

Jandy Hardesty

Jandy is especially drawn to classic, off-beat, and foreign film, but loves a good blockbuster action sequence, too. You can find her on Flickchart as faithx5. She also writes at The Frame, and co-hosts the occasional podcast Not at Odds at Row Three.

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6 Responses

  1. Jandy, your theme here is peculiar to me at this point in my life. Thanks to my health derailing my plans of going into teaching, I’ve fallen behind not only my peers, but people five and ten years younger than I am now (like you, you damn kid!). What I appreciated most about this piece of yours is how you essentially traced your own quarterlife through these three movies. I’m sure someone out there is waiting to accuse you of narcissism, but I know better. You’ve displayed the kind of introspection throughout this piece that most people are uncomfortable approaching.

    I appreciate that, rather than cite three movies that fit the theme, you’ve splayed yourself open and walked us through your own arc. The world doesn’t really need another paragraph about The Graduate for The Graduate‘s sake at this point, after all. But the world does need greater dialog about how our relationship with the arts helps us to understand our lives and our world, and you’ve done a brilliant job of that here. Kudos!

    • Jandy Hardesty says:

      Really, the crux of the idea is not knowing what to do with your life and feeling like everyone else is moving on around you while you’re stuck. And you’re right that can happen at any point in your life, for any number of reasons! This is obviously the time it affected me, and you’re right, this piece ended up a bit more personal than even I originally intended it to be. But I still remember vividly ten years ago just sitting in a waiting room somewhere and realizing that I had no idea what I was doing or what anything I’d been doing was for, and it was devastating. I didn’t have all these movies at the time (Frances Ha hadn’t even been made yet!), but one of the biggest things for me at the time was just simply hearing that other people were having the same questions and feelings that I was.

  2. Every social institution is predicated on one thing: There is a place and role for each of us. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about being part of a family, serving in the military during a war, or even if we expand it to a discussion about faith. Not knowing where that place is or what role there is for us to play is demoralizing.

    To bring the discussion back more directly to film, I think this is a key reason why Lawrence of Arabia has resonated with me for so long. I first saw it in my teens, which were of course predictably awkward and frustrating for me. Lawrence is clearly a misfit who has never found a place where he belonged; we glean that much from his conversations with General Murray in the beginning and later with Ali.

    I’ve rarely felt anything resembling self-confidence as I understand it, but there’s one thing I have in common with Lawrence (or at least, his cinematic incarnation): Despite often not really knowing where or how I’m supposed to fit in, I know that I am who I am and I can’t be who I’m not. In my case, that means I suck at faking things so I don’t bother. I’m never going to try to pass myself off as someone I’m not, even if it would secure for me a place to be and a role to play. In Lawrence’s case, it led him to proclaim ever so boldly, “I cannot fiddle but I can make a great state from a small city”. That’s more hubris than I carry, but I identified with the idea that if I do have something to offer but I’m useless where I am, then hopefully that means there’s another place for me in which I can be useful.

    Everyone who has seen the film has their own favorite element: the iconic cut from the match to the sun; the mirage; “No prisoners!”; Maurice Jarre’s sweeping score; Freddie Young’s gorgeous cinematography of the desert landscapes. The scene that spoke – and still speaks – to me the most intimately is where we see Lawrence, dejected, sulk on a sand dune after his proposal to Prince Feisal that his troops should attack Aqaba was dismissed as being impossible. Lawrence just sits there, staring silently. I think in the film, that scene plays out over two or three minutes; within the story, it seems to go on for hours.

    The fact he eventually comes up with the fantastic scheme he does, and that it works, is almost incidental to what that scene meant to me when I first saw it. The film is called, after all, Lawrence of Arabia. It opens with his death and funeral, where we’re told upfront just how big a deal he became. But here he sits for an interminable length of agonizing time at a crossroads without any idea what the hell to do. I’ll never lead an army across the desert to turn the tide of a war. But I’ve sat on that proverbial sand dune just as frustrated and just as lonesome as Lawrence sat on his actual sand dune, and that comforted me twenty years ago as much as it comforts me today.

    • Jandy Hardesty says:

      ^ This right here is worth its own post, Travis.

    • That’s flattering of you to say, Jandy, but I think it’s merely testament to the nerve you struck with your post. As I said originally, you did a brilliant job with this piece!

  3. Finally getting to catch up with this! I watched Kicking & Screaming immediately after returning home for watching the class two years younger than me graduate from college. I was feeling old even then and this film was exactly what I needed. It’s still my favorite of Baumbach’s films.