If you’ve seen the trailer for Virginia, Dustin Lance Black’s newest film, you would be hard-pressed to find something resembling the narrative simplicity of his greatest inspiration, When Harry Met Sally. There’s guns, sons babying moms, politician affairs, and yet his favorite scene–his most returned-to scene, he told NPR–is that emblematic Meg Ryan-Carrie Fisher “Rolodex Scene.” When Harry Met Sally is the classic rom-com. Palatable love loss, recovery, reuniting–it’s the narrative spun in most of its kind following, a love against all odds, a love returned. It’s a narrative, I think Black understands quite rightly, that we all long for.
It doesn’t matter how many times you watch it, it’s always interesting and you’re always identifying with a different scene in the movie. At least I am. And the hope is that you’re always progressing to a later and later scene in the film so that one day, you may get to the end and you may be running through Manhattan on New Year’s Eve to kiss the person you truly love, and you know you love them and they love you in return, and you’re aiming for that.
The aim is true and, as Black also understands, the “Rolodex Scene” is both a testament to who we ever-long to be (and be with), and who we are not. We wait for the stuff, the right mojification, the New Year’s Eve reunion in the City, the perfect glee. And the reality is there’s always a black past, an ugly waistline, an unknown something, an incomplete imagining. The Rolodex Pursuit cannot meet that great need for love completed because, well, you are involved.
If this movie is on TV or on pay-per-view or on an airplane recently I saw it again, I always check in to see how I’m progressing and unfortunately, it seems that I’m always returning to the Carrie Fisher- Rolodex-scene in the movie where you’re looking for somebody new…Far too often I find myself in that position and you’re just screaming inside saying, ‘No, no, no, it’s not about that, there’s something more magical than a Rolodex in the park,’ and you find yourself in tears. [The movie is] speaking to such basic truths about matchmaking and love that I think it’s withstood the test of time.
The aim is true, the actors are flawed. A love fulfilled by way of the Rolodex? No, it must come for you, despite you.