The year is 1982, when my parents were newlyweds, the Berlin wall was still erect, I was still far from born, and Richard Gere was still young and heartbreakingly handsome. Well, I'm a guy, but when someone of the same sex looks good, like it or not you just have to admit it.
Gere plays Zack Mayo, a troubled young man who had been raised (and often neglected) by his whore-chasing father, and decided to join the U.S. Navy in the hope of having a better future. His life was not made easy with the existence of Sergeant Foley at the barracks who had his eyes on Mayo all the damn time, and whose blood was "as red as his".
Enters Paula, a young and beautiful seductress with whom he fooled around on off-days, who fell in love with him the moment their eyes met. She knew that once they graduate, Navy guys would forget the girls they fool around with, and throw them away the way they throw their berets in the air. But Paula stayed with him to see if she would be proven wrong.
When I read the synopsis of this film, I thought it was going to be every bit as cheesy as all the other love stories. Two people meet, hate each other, one thing brings them back together, starts to fall in love, all the way to happy ending. The ingredients of all Bollywood films, with beautiful actors and great songs for aesthetic values (and to make people forget they have actually watched the same kind of film a zillion times before).
But this is not the case for "An Officer And A Gentleman". 15 minutes into the film, I knew I was wrong and I knew I was going to love it. And I did. Richard Gere was awesome as Mayo. I love his expressions. He started out slow, weak and indecisive. He ended up standing and walking tall, determined and composed, as a Navy officer should be. When he found his best friend, Sid, dead in the motel bathroom (Sid committed suicide after Lynette rejected his marriage proposal), he cried and said "you shoulda told me, you shoulda told me.." It touched me so deeply and I was really close to tears but I ended up smiling. You know, I'm that guy who laughs in the cinema when everybody else is sobbing. Not that I'm not moved, it's just that that's the most effective way to not let the sad scenes get to you.
And in the training weeks, during which time Mayo endured a hell, Sergeant Foley threatened to kick him out of the program, and he screamed "I have nowhere else to go, I have nowhere else. I have nothing." It was heartbreaking, and I could really feel his pain. See, it was that powerful.
I guess there's no harm giving away the ending, as I'm like one of the few people who haven't watched the movie until just now. When Mayo came to the paper factory, kissed Paula on the neck, lifted her up and took her away, I thought it was a little soap opera-ish, but come to think of it, it's actually the perfect, beautiful ending. I couldn't come up with a better one. And the song "Up Where We Belong" was also as beautiful. I smiled all the way until the credits stopped rolling.
The final scene is in fact, a really popular one. I remember having seen it in one episode of Friends, but I had a hard time placing it. Then, I took a shot, and got it right. It was in "The One With The Chicken Pox", where Ross showed up at the coffee house in a Navy suit and lifted Rachel up, with the music of "Up Where We Belong" playing. It's good to finally know the origin of that particular scene which now I find so friggin' funny.
Zack Mayo lifting Paula up and took her out of the shabby factory into a bright future.
Ross lifting Rachel up in Friends, but just when he was taking her out, she forgot something and Ross' back was hurting, so he had to put her down. Nice parody.
All in all, this is a truly enjoyable film and it's arguably my best film of this week (it even beats "Dead Poets Society" and "Naked Gun".)