Aug 23, 2011
The difference between my wife and me
Further proof, if proof were needed, of the differences between the way my wife and I watch movies. The other night we were watching Ronin, after careful checking that she hadn't seen it before. "Are you sure you haven't seen this one," I go. "It's the one with Robert De Niro and the car chases." "I don't think so," she goes. "You would remember," I tell her. "These car chases. They're not just your usual car chases. They're pretty extraordinary. They seem to have been shot with..." But she insists we press on and find out. We get to the first heist. "Natasha McElhone's in this," says Kate. "I love her." The first heist backfires, and de Niro and his gang give chase through in the streets of Nice, clipping fruit and veg sellers, at one point ploughing into a table of diners. The chases are holding up well. They are terrifically exciting. I breathe a sigh of relief. "So she betrayed them?" she asks. "Yes," I reply, knowledgeably. On to the second chase, this one at high speed through Paris, de Niro's hands on the steering wheel, body jammed back in his seat as if by sheer g-force. "Holy moly," goes Kate. They're going so fast, the cop's hubcaps come off. At one point McElhone swerves into oncoming traffic, accelerating the wrong way through an underpass. Kate's knuckles are white, I can see, from clenching an imaginary steering wheel. This is great. She's enjoying the movie. De Niro is holding up! He looks so young! And its just 1998! Finally, we get to the climax, where the cast of back-stabbers and betrayers come together at an ice-rink. Suddenly a sequin-clad figure blurs past. "Oh, Katarina Witt," says Kate. "I have seen this." I don't even remember there being an ice-skater in the movie. I'm not one for generalisations about the sexes, having been raised in a family of women who put me so permanently in touch with my feminine side that I once wanted to watch Titanic during the Superbowl. (Kate wanted to watch the Superbowl.) But the Ronin thing did made me feel unexpectedly masculine, and I'm going to go with it. She didn't remember anything else about the film — not the super adrenalised car chases, not de Niro sucking on an unfiltered Galoises or sharing Alain-Delonish apothegms with Jean Reno, not even suchering his own bullet wound, a scene Kate actually has to leave, and make tea, rather than sit through — but the moment we gets to Katarina Witt? Oh that movie. The movie with a 30-second bit-part by some Russian figure skater. Mystifying.