Monday, January 30, 2012

Failure to complete

Have you ever had to quit watching a movie or reading a book because it was too good?

With me it's tragedies that, if the characters have grabbed me, I just can't keep going on after I realize that this can't end well. Steven King's Pet Sematary is one such book. After the guy's kid gets hit by a car and he starts dreaming about digging up the kid's body and taking it to the pet sematary, I just had to quit reading. I couldn't go on. I didn't want to see what was going to happen to these characters that I'd grown to love, because I knew it wasn't going to be anything good.

Latest instance of that is the movie The Professional. A young Natalie Portman's damaged character of an abused and orphaned girl who acts out sexually and violently in a way I've seen in real life from abused children raised under similar circumstances, and Jean Reno's equally damaged Leon the hit man, are played brilliantly by their respective actors. But Matilda has the poor impulse control of youth and the wild emotional swings of an abused youngster, and there's no way this can end well. In the end someone dies, and I know it's going to be one of these two complex and conflicted characters because there's no other way it can end, and I just don't want to watch any further because I'm just a softy and those two actors have sold me on their characters. Too bad Natalie Portman's recent roles have basically been as eye candy, because this movie shows that she totally has the skill to own a movie. Or at least she did as a thirteen year old kid.

So what about you? Any such instances of "too good to finish"? Or am I just a big ole' plush softy penguin?

-- Badtux the Softy Penguin


  1. My only experience with this was a Piers Anthony novel in which a main character was burned as a witch. I believe, being science fiction, the character later came back in a different way, but the execution was so horrific I had to quit. Back then, finishing a book I started was almost a religion for me.

    I have many, many times avoided films because I suspected them of being too good, and too depressing.

  2. I, too, have avoided films and novels that gave every sign of being too good to start. I'm shallow -- I want happy endings. Real life is sufficiently depressing that I want to be able to come out of a theater feeling better than when I went in.

  3. Softy.

    But it did bother me in the latest iteration of "True Grit" that Mattie Ross seemed to have grown up to be a somewhat bitter spinster.

  4. Yes, a few books and films have either made me stop or want to....I was always sorry when I told myself to "finish my reading plate."

    Worse...the ones going swimmingly along and then plunging not into despairing sad endings, but having attacks of stupid that violate the entire plot-line in the last ten pages.

  5. For me it was a very gritty book about Nam. Red sands? Set in that damn; Ia Drang Valley where we continually got our ass kicked.(Mel Gibson not included) I Knew it was a train wreck coming but the author had you so close to it I couldn't walk away.
    Forgot the title, never forgot the story.
    a very shaken

  6. Oh, I have to add Bridge to Terabithia. I ran into that just idly surfing one day, and got hooked. Until it turned sour on me. Dammit.

  7. I have the opposite problem, I will keep reading pure crap just because I bought the book. I have read some real shitty books. And like Nangleator said, I can't stop reading a book after I've started reading it.

  8. I have had this happen to me more times than I can count. If the story is good, I can usually pick it back up and continue on. If the story isn't especially good though, I have no problem not finishing a book. I used to but then I got a job where I got loads and loads of free books and something shifted in me.

    The one movie that really stuck with me because of this was Blade Runner. I actually left the theater back in the day and spent the second half of the movie hiding out in the bathroom. I was eventually able to finish it when it was out on DVD but even then only in small chunks. I think it was Rutger Hauer's best performance of his whole career.


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