Open Thank You to: #GuardianLive

 Film - The Apartment (US 1960) dir. Billy Wilder. Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine. Credit: Ronald Grant Archive. Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive

Film – The Apartment (US 1960) dir. Billy Wilder. Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine. Credit: Ronald Grant Archive. Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive


Thanks to #GuardianLive and @guardianfilm for putting on a fantastic discussion of the upcoming Oscars and for screening one of my favorite ever films.

The Apartment is a wonderful film. I jumped at the opportunity to go and see it in my favorite cinema: The Ritzy Brixton. The evening didn’t disappoint. Seeing this film on a big screen was one of the best cinema experiences I have ever had.


My two-cents on why The Apartment is an exceptionally good film is:

It is a perfectly balance romantic comedy that is grounded in reality.

Most old film are intolerable to watch because of the irritating mannerisms and exaggerated statements people from past eras use. You are always noticing bits of jarring odd behaviour that pull you out of the story and make you think about how we live in a different world now.

Before I went in last night I believed from memory of having seen the film before, that the Apartment somehow didn’t have these things. That was the reason it felt so modern.  That isn’t true.

On closer inspection it is full of these “old timey” things. But The Apartment is so gripping and seems so modern because by comparison to most romantic comedies, it is much more realistic.  It keeps you firmly focused on a time in your life where you loved someone and they didn’t feel the same way about you. As a result you can’t be thumped out of the story by the odd old-time things people do from time to time.

One of the Guardian panelist said this film is about: “where you go to have sex”.

I think The Apartment is about bullying. And what it feels like to be bullied at work. It always puts me in mind of the first time out of university I got a “proper job” and was astonished to find that it was like being thrown back into the playground. After a couple of years you harden up to it and don’t let bits of bad behaviour affect you. But when you first start work years of school have taught you how one should behave. You then discover that adults often don’t live up to the high standards they would lead children to believe are appropriate.

A classic trope in modern romantic comedies is that the female lead misinterprets the actions or intensions of the male lead. So take for example the Wedding Singer with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. Something happens, the girl gets on a plain to go to Lass Vegas and marry the “bad guy”.  Adam Sandler then has to chase her down and buy a plane ticket and singer her song on an airplane. That’s very sweet and I like that film. That is both way less dramatic and less realistic than what happens in the apartment.

Baxter the male lead, grows-a-pare and is so discusseded with the people he works with he finally, breaks and just chucks his job in his bosses face. That is massive! That is much bigger than buying an overpriced plane ticket. That is chucking it all in.

Then rather than the female lead misinterpreting Baxter’s intentions, like an intelligent 3 dimensional human-being, she understands exactly what his motivations were, and runs to him. Rather than being passive idiot that needs man in the room, with guitar spelling it out, she works it all out and goes to him: She is active rather than passive.

That why the last scene in the film is so Romantic. He tells her he absolutely loves her. But it isn’t necessary. She has already worked that out. Otherwise she wouldn’t be there. So that last I love you, has no function, other than to make her feel good. She knows he loves her and he tells her anyway.

That is the kind of thing real people do every day and that why this film is so great.