Motifs in 2013 Cinema: Reality vs Fantasy

Andrew over at Encore's World of Film and TV is bringing back his popular blogathon Motifs in Cinema He's chosen 13 motifs and ask that we pick one and use at least 4 films. I picked Reality vs Fantasy. Last year I chose Appreciation of Life. Thanks for hosting this again, Andrew! I hope this isn't too much of a jumbled mess.

Motifs in Cinema is a discourse across film blogs, assessing the way in which various thematic elements have been used in the 2013 cinematic landscape.  How does a common theme vary in use from a comedy or drama? Are filmmakers work from a similar canvas when they asses the issue of death or the dynamic of revenge?  Like most things, a film begins with an idea - Motifs in Cinema accesses how various themes emanating from a single idea change when utilized by varying artists. 

1) Her 

Falling in love with someone that isn't "real"

I don't think there was a film that captured 'realty vs fantasy' in 2013 better than Her. You have Theodore, who falls in love with his operating system, Samantha. It's pure fantasy. He can't hold her, can't "see" her. He only hears her voice. The interesting thing about Her is that I don't think it's too far fetched. So many of us are addicted to technology. I enjoy talking about movies with my online friends more so than I do my actual friends. (How's that for sounding like a film snob?) Living that sort of life online, almost like Theo was living through his relationship with Samantha is easy. It's easy to get wrapped up in your fantasy, and I think Her did a good job of showing that it can actually be beautiful and therapeutic, and not toxic or dangerous like most people would say. Though it can be those things too, but I like Her's version better.

2) The Wolf of Wall Street 

What do you mean I can't live my life as an insufferable douche without consequences? 

Oh, Jordan Belfort. The life you were living really was a fantasy. You were screwing people over, snorting way too much coke,  and making too many awful decisions before you got the ultimate reality check in jail time. Lavish lifestyles like that always seem like a fantasy to me.

3) The Bling Ring 

We just wanted to be like them.

These girls loved the way their favorite celebrities dressed. They wanted to mimic that fantasy life so badly that they actually committed burglary against them. They stole their clothes, shoes, and jewelry and wore them to bring even more attention to themselves. The Bling Ring offers interesting commentary on how celebrities can really affect the lives of some people who dream of being them. The reality for these crimes? You got it. Jail time! Congratulations, you have won a pair of Bebe shoes. 

4) The Lifeguard 

I'm not ready to be 30.

When I first picked this topic, this film came to mind right away. Leigh is a semi successful 30 year old living in NYC, but she's not happy. So she goes back home to her parent's house, to her old job as a lifeguard, and tries to reclaim her old life. Her quarter-life crisis is a fantasy in itself. Especially when she thinks it's okay to start a relationship with a minor. Luckily for her, the reality of that situation could've been much, much worse.

5) Trance 
What just happened?

Trance really blurs the lines between fantasy and reality. Simon using hypnotherapist Elizabeth to help him find out what he did with a valuable painting is a very significant step. How can you fully trust something like this? What if you're being fed lies instead of remembering what actually happened? Trance had so many twists and turns that you could easily lose track, but that's also what makes the reality vs fantasy element in this movie so interesting.


  1. These are really good choices for this topic! Trance is one of those films i will have to watch again, because i think i was tricked! lol.

    1. Thanks! I loved Trance, but I should probably watch it again too. All I remember now is Rosario Dawson's..umm..close up.

  2. What I think is interesting about HER, though, is that on the literal level it's easy to call it fantasy because fantasy isn't real but even further than that the film has a particularly bleak life outlook when you consider that there's this gnawing suggestion that the sort of "intimacy" and "oneness" which Samantha and Theodore seem to have is always going to be stuck somewhere between the polar opposites of reality and fantasy.

    Good call on THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, the moment that really nails the reality fantasy dichotomy for me is the revelation of the quaaludes scenes. Jordan thinks he's Popeye out to save the day but he's more a Bluto destroying it when he doesn't realise.

    1. YES! I was actually trying to find a gif of that "popeye" scene, but I couldn't find one, so I settled with their weird warm up routine.

  3. Very cool post yet again, Brittani. The only film I haven't seen is Lifeguard, but it sounds worth checking out.

    I honestly think Jordan's life wasn't fantasy at all, no matter what happened. That f--king guy was a stubborn and determined as anyone ever.

    As for Trance...all fantasies and realities have blurred into one epic shot of Dawson in her full glory. I think I'm going to lay down now.

    1. Thanks! The Lifeguard is on Instant Netflix. He was very determined, but it was a fantasy to think he'd never once get caught. (Not that he noticed. Too much cocaine)

      That Dawson shot surprised me. I seriously did not expect that.

  4. YAY! I love that you included Trance here. Great post!

  5. Consider me officially curious about TRANCE now, I let it slip by when it played last year but will add it to my queue now. Great post and love the bit on The Bling Ring.

    1. Thank you! Trance was a trip, I'd like to give it another watch again.


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