Monsters Of Intimacy

If I was getting married — and if instead of a wedding song we could have a wedding TV drama to play as we take our vows — I would pick The Flowers, the latest drama gem from Channel 4.

What a nourishing feast for the heart and mind that was. If you missed it — it ended last night — please please watch it, somehow somewhere! You will be a richer person for it.

It is a love story told from the dark side — and of course all the more real for it. Although ‘dark’ might be too upbeat a description for it. Better yet — disturbingly bleak but breathtakingly poetic all at the same time. Maurice, played by the moodily handsome Julian Barratt is a suicidal husband of Deborah. Played by the emotional-complexity-incarnate Olivia Colman. A seemingly happy go lucky wife and a mother of two odd ball adults still living with the parents. And to complete this wonderful mix of main characters is the sweetest Japanese gay cartoonist you’ll ever meet. Shun, who is incidentally the creator of the show — Will Sharpe.

A part from showstopping performances by everyone, the drama is also visually stunning. The story is set against a backdrop of Romantic and Pre-Raphaelite pastoral scenery, including also the characters usually inhabiting such mythical landscapes. A sumptuous repast for all the sense, I tell you.

But what moved me the most was the message of what real love is made of: the mysteries of who we are. But not the put-on, acted out, self-protective kind of mysteries — that is the stuff of uninitiated youth. What I’m talking about — and the Flowers — is the real, palpable mystery of another person. The fact that we never really ever fully know someone we share our life with. What’s more, we don’t ever know our selves fully either. It is only when we experience something for the first time that we encounter a part of ourselves we never met before. But so does the person we live with. And those are the monsters lurking in the shadows of real intimacy — will we be rejected for it or loved even more?

While we ponder this we grow apart. We need the distance to allow our monster to come out so we can see it more clearly. When we do though it gets even scarier so we pull away even further. The partner unaware of this process is left feeling excluded, worried, upset. So they start pulling their weight away too. Seems only fair. And the gap widens ever more, until it feels unbridgeable.

But the love strings between the couple are not really breakable. Just stretchy. Always with a point of return. Different for each couple though. But when it’s reached, the two lovers are yanked back together with a force not unlike a gigantic sling. Shattered from the impact of this encounter they may feel broken, hurt, angry. But considerably truer too.

And it’s like a new life is injected into their relationship. A next level reached by crashing into each other.

Such is the importance of imploding for any shared future to be unfolding.

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