February 11, 2010

May Valentines surround you…

Posted in Between Us column, Movies, Relationships at 5:51 pm by dinaheng

The movie’s title is linked to February 14, but the joy of “Valentine’s Day” is really meant to be shared year-round.

Whether you’re passionately in love, a lukewarm single, or a jaded heart in need of healing, this film offers laughter, solace, and sweet moments that promise no matter where you are in life, love is all around you. All you have to do is breathe deeply, and let it in.

A cast of stars from the life and filmography of director Garry Marshall share the intertwining storylines of a group of Los Angelenos, who find, keep, or end their relationships on this day devoted to celebrating love. The film, out February 12, opens with Reed Bennett, a florist played by Ashton Kutcher, proposing to his girlfriend Morley (Jessica Alba).

When Morley says yes, Reed’s closest friends are surprised, especially Alphonso (George Lopez), the florist’s right-hand man at work and sounding board in his personal life. Alphonso senses that Morley’s not the best match for his friend, but wisely keeps his counsel to himself.

“Not too many friends would tell someone if they had an inkling that things weren’t right because they’d be putting the friendship at risk,” says Lopez, sitting in a Beverly Hills hotel suite. “But if the friendship is strong, and built on love, I think you can say something.

“A friend can say, ‘I’m not that crazy about that person for you.’ In doing this film, I learned to be a more supportive person. I went to a place where I wanted to be every day.”

Being in that place where love dictates our actions is a wonderful place indeed. Most of us know what it’s like to visit — when we first fall in love, when we are hugged by our parents, when we hold a newborn baby — but we don’t know how to stay rooted there.

We get angry, we forget how much someone means to us, and we hurt them. We get frightened, we pull away. We get needy, and hold on too tight. Love’s dance becomes an emotional symphony of conflict.

But Alphonso, a fan of the insightful Persian poet Rumi, remains a calming presence in his friend’s life. Lopez says he kept a book of Rumi’s work at home, reading it for inspiration. And as Rumi’s words say, “All we really want is love’s confusing joy.”

“Rumi’s poetry is all about waiting for love, accepting love, being able to see, but being blinded by love,” Lopez says. “We don’t really own anything in life. All that remains when we leave is love.”

“Valentine’s Day” is a multi-generational tale that shares everything from the angst of childhood crushes to the joy of growing old with someone. Its message is simple… All that really matters — in the beginning, middle, and end of life — is love.

Lopez, married for 16 years to Ann Serrano, says his character Alphonso is the grounded one in the film, a man who has found the secret to a happy marriage.

“People go for shiny, but what always shines the brightest, may not be the best,” Lopez says. “You have to want to be with the person, if it’s going to last. It’s not all about the physical. You have to invest time to get to know people.

“I came from a fractured home life, and not many relationships worked. My wife taught me that somebody can care about you unconditionally. Alphonso said it best.  He said, ‘I married my best friend.’ “

You know what they say… if you want a friend, all you have to do be is be one. The same goes for Valentines.

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