Author Topic: Ennis VS Randall  (Read 327 times)

Offline davidinnyc

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Ennis VS Randall
« on: Mar 09, 2018, 06:21 AM »
Hello guys. I've read through a couple of posts here and there about Randall. As we all know, Randall is a very shadowy figure in the movie and we don't know much about him or his relationship with Jack. I've seen almost universally comments like "Randall was only a backup" "Jack's only love is Ennis". I agree that's probably what the movie implies. But let's put ourselves in Jack's shoes for a minute. He's been seeing Ennis for almost 20 years and Ennis still does not want to move forward. He's keeping Jack stranded without the willingness to make a commitment. To use a modern word, that's "breadcrumbing". I know that it's not entirely Ennis' fault, we gotta look at the social context back then. And in the blue parker scene, Lureen said the truth out loud that "Its' not fair for Jack to drive all the way up". Think about it, if you are dating a guy and have to travel a long way to a location that's convenient for him all the time, how would you feel? It is not fair. I admit that in the movie we can see that Ennis enjoys spending time with Jack and loves Jack. But it seems like Jack puts more effort in the relationship and he never got what he deserved.

I understand back in the 60s gays have to be under the radar and it's not easy to meet another gay guy with whom there is chemistry. In other words, there were not many "options", so people tend to treat every option seriously. But Randall changed that for Jack, now Jack has another option. And I do not see anything wrong for Jack to try it out with Randall.

Of course, there are the 2 shirts. And that's the ultimate evidence for many people that Jack's love for Ennis is irreplaceable. Yes, artistically, that's the instinctive way to interpret the 2 shirts. But realistically, there could be many other explanations as well. The last fight between Ennis and Jack, Jack was obviously heartbroken. He probably finally ran out of hope and patience for the relationship and wanna move on. He may even want to throw the shirts away but never got a chance because he died before he could do it. Or he may also simply forget about the shirts at all since he doesn't live in his parents' house and the shirts have been there for 20 years. 

I always look at the movie as an audience, until today when I tried to put myself in Jack's shoes and I couldn't find a reason to keep loving Ennis. Between an unlovable Ennis and unknown Randall, I wonder why Randall doesn't get much support from the audience.
« Last Edit: Mar 09, 2018, 06:48 AM by davidinnyc »

Offline FlwrChild

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Re: Ennis VS Randall
« Reply #1 on: Mar 09, 2018, 08:27 PM »
Interesting questions. There are threads about whether Jack gave up on Ennis or not as well as the ones you found regarding Randall. You might want to check them out too.

I agree that Jack was heartbroken after that last meeting. I can even acknowledge the possibility that something was irreparably broken inside of him as he realized he would never have that life he wanted with Ennis. But I'm still one of those people who believes that whatever else Jack might do, he would always leave room for the possibility that Ennis might one day give him a different answer and so I don't think he gave up on Ennis completely or that he would have made a more established relationship with Randall. I do agree that Randall would have been a safe, comfortable, and accessible alternative for when Ennis was not an option for him and I can't harbor any resentment towards Randall, or towards Jack for needing that kind of connection with another man. But I also hear Jack's voice in my head saying "I wish I knew how to quit you." Not that he had, not that he would, but that he wished he could. Which to me implies that Jack realizes that whatever else happens and whatever else Ennis will or won't do for him/them, Jack will continue to stand it for as "long as we can ride it."

I also think it's unlikely he forgot about the shirts because it seems in the movie that he usually stops in to see his parents when he comes north for his trips with Ennis so odds are good he saw them after that last trip too. And they were still there when Ennis came to visit Jack's parents so at the very least he didn't get rid of them. Which might not mean anything but it still gives me hope.

As for why Randall doesn't get more support from the audience, I think it's just loyalty to Ennis and to the relationship between Ennis and Jack. I can sympathize with Randall but I can't root for him to be with Jack because my heart holds out for Jack and Ennis. Some people might resent Randall for his intrusion on the Jack/Ennis relationship but that isn't his fault (for all we know he doesn't even know that Ennis exists) so that would just be an instinctive emotional response (in my opinion) and not because of anything Randall actually did to draw their dislike. That's how I see it anyway. 
For a moment in our lives. Forever in our hearts.

"They were respectful of each other’s opinions, each glad to have a companion where none had been expected." ~ BBM Short Story

There are three ways to ultimate success:
The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind. (Mister Rogers)

Offline FlwrChild

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Re: Ennis VS Randall
« Reply #2 on: Mar 09, 2018, 09:12 PM »
There are two other things I wanted to comment on.

You said that Ennis was "unlovable." I don't see him that way, even with all his intractableness and all Jack's suffering. Ennis was a victim of his upbringing, his experience seeing Earl dead in the ditch (and the belief that his father would view any gay man as equally deserving of such a fate), and the times that they lived in. Jack had similar experiences with his father and the times they lived in but somehow he was able to see beyond what the world wanted them to conform to and believe in a life together, much like Earl and Rich did. The biggest difference between Ennis and Jack was that Ennis could only see the way that Earl died and believe that this would be their fate if anyone knew about them whereas Jack was able to see their life together (and what that was worth) and not just the way Earl died or the dangers for gay men in the world they lived in. No one can say for sure what might have happened if they tried for that sweet life but Jack was willing to take the chance, and certainly many gay men lived quiet lives together during the same time period and didn't get killed for it but poor Ennis just couldn't see past the dangers and his own conflict over being in love with a man. I can't help but feel sorry for him and I think Jack did a little too. Even as he resented being denied the life he believed they could have if only Ennis would do it. My heart breaks for both of them.


The other thing is that while Ennis is the protagonist, and people are always raving about Heath's performance (which was admittedly brilliant), for me it was always about Jack. So much of what he felt was mirrored in his eyes, so much of his pain was so visible to see, and so many of his dreams were so simple and so genuine, that I couldn't help but be drawn to him and I couldn't help feeling protective of him. I felt his pain and I also understood his perspective. I felt Ennis' pain but like Jack was frustrated that he couldn't move past those few short visits over all those years. Would it have hurt less for Jack to let go and just hold onto the memories while he built a different life or for him to stick with what they had when he wanted so much more, because for him those brief moments were better than nothing at all? I have a feeling either of those options would have broken him so I think he was destined to be the sad, disappointed man we see at the final confrontation. Because once he gave his heart to Ennis he couldn't ever take it back.
For a moment in our lives. Forever in our hearts.

"They were respectful of each other’s opinions, each glad to have a companion where none had been expected." ~ BBM Short Story

There are three ways to ultimate success:
The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind. (Mister Rogers)

Offline davidinnyc

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Re: Ennis VS Randall
« Reply #3 on: Mar 09, 2018, 11:32 PM »
Thank you FlwrChild for your replies! They are wonderful.

I guess how I felt was "If I were Jack, I would leave Ennis a long time ago". But then again, that probably means I can't really put myself in his shoes. I grew up in an entirely different time and social context compared to Jack. But one thing for sure is that there must be something special about Ennis that kept Jack along all those years, something special that is not shown in the movie directly. The movie somehow shed more lights on the "conflicts" between Jack and Ennis, as we can see the final fight scene and the time when Jack suggested Ennis move to Texas and Ennis responded with sarcasm.

I do agree that Ennis is the victim of the society and his unfortunately childhood. What's more unfortunately is that he never had access to things (higher education, good mentors, friends...) that could help him overcome those fears. He will forever stuck in his own little world and own fear. I feel sorry for him. But as the years went by, we can no longer separate "true Ennis" and "injected negativity" as them really become one and that's who he is. Empathy shouldn't be the answer for why Jack should stick with him no matter what. But then again, Jack had his own reasons for sticking with Ennis. And he decided to move on after the final fight, he had all the rights to do so as well.

I personally think after the final fight scene, Jack finally realized who Ennis really was it would never change. So Jack was ready to move on. My reason for this is from a movie making as well as a story telling perspective. If after the final fight scene, Jack went home with a broken heart and still had hope that someday Ennis might turn around, then what's the point of including this scene at all as the same scenario happened many times before and was shown in the movie already? There must be something different this time so that it's worth showing in the movie, and that something different is that "Jack's hope is gone". As for the shirts, I think people don't get over a 20-year-relationship in a day. And Jack may still have love for Ennis, but he also realized it would never work out between them, so it was time to move on.

This is even more important when we combine Jack's death, as this affects the overall message of the movie a lot.

1) If Jack died from an accident, the message would be "the fear caused by a homophobic society makes this accident truly tragic". In other words, had it not been for the homophobic society, Ennis would not have so much fear and he would live with Jack, and they would have some precious years together before Jack died from the accident. And accidents do happen in life.

2) If Jack was murdered, we can imagine that Jack finally decided to pursue the life he wanted with someone else (Randall), and that openness got him killed. Then the message of the movie would be "tragic fate of gay guys in a homophobic society", as either they get killed by openly out, or they live an unhappy life like Ennis.

Both messages make sense, but they are different. Although from a movie-making point of view, the movie implies more to the second one (murdered), because if Jack did die from an accident, the movie would tell a more plausible accident and not the cover-up sounding one Lureen told.

Offline tpe

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Re: Ennis VS Randall
« Reply #4 on: Mar 12, 2018, 09:41 PM »
Well, the images of Jack being murdered could be interpreted as what Ennis was imagining at that very moment.

In a sense, the movie is s bit ambiguous about this. Although I will admit that showing the images does plant the seed in the viewer's mind that Jack was indeed murdered.

Offline Coraxx

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Re: Ennis VS Randall
« Reply #5 on: Mar 13, 2018, 01:41 AM »
Well, the images of Jack being murdered could be interpreted as what Ennis was imagining at that very moment.

In a sense, the movie is s bit ambiguous about this. Although I will admit that showing the images does plant the seed in the viewer's mind that Jack was indeed murdered.

IMO the story Lureen told on the phone sounds too weird to be true. A car accident Yes, but that?

Offline tpe

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Re: Ennis VS Randall
« Reply #6 on: Mar 14, 2018, 07:39 PM »
I think so too. You do get the impression that she wasn't telling everything. It sounded too rote.

Offline davidinnyc

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Re: Ennis VS Randall
« Reply #7 on: Mar 15, 2018, 12:25 PM »
IMO the story Lureen told on the phone sounds too weird to be true. A car accident Yes, but that?

Yes. As I said before, from a movie making perspective, the film makers do imply more about the murder being what happened. Otherwise, they would tell a more solid sounding accident and not the cover-up sounding one Lureen told.

Offline FlwrChild

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Re: Ennis VS Randall
« Reply #8 on: Mar 15, 2018, 06:38 PM »
I’m actually going to disagree with you guys on this one. I think the film (like the original story) leaves it ambiguous as to how Jack died for a reason. I think that the message of the movie is about the impact of societal homophobia on one man. Because it doesn’t matter how Jack died. What matters is that Ennis believes he was murdered. He was always convinced that this was the inevitable end for two men who wanted to be together – at least one of them would be dead at the hands of angry men. It’s what he was wired to believe. The tragedy of the story is that Ennis never escaped the lessons of his youth and the image of Earl in that ditch. He was never able to see a world where two men could be happy – and safe – together. So no matter how hard Jack lobbied for that life (and no matter how badly Ennis might have wanted it too), it was never going to happen because Ennis couldn’t move past that fear and he wasn’t willing to take that chance.  Jack believed in that life and seemed to think it was worth it to take that risk. Much like Rich and Earl.* Ironically, after all his years of efforts to protect them, Ennis still lost Jack and ended up in a world without him.

*{I think it would be interesting to have a talk with both Ennis and Rich to find out which of the two men regretted their choices more – would it have been better to let go of the love of his life to ensure their safety and never have the life together that they did or better to take the chance, have that life, and lose his partner to violence but have the memories of their shared time together to hold onto for the rest of his life? Hmmm.}

As for whether Jack decided to walk away from Ennis after that last confrontation, I’ll always go back to the dozy embrace and how the original story described it. Of their fight it said, “…they’d torqued things almost to where they had been, for what they’d said was no news. Nothing ended, nothing begun, nothing resolved.” And of the embrace, “Later, that dozy embrace solidified in his memory as the single moment of artless, charmed happiness in their separate and difficult lives. Nothing marred it, even the knowledge that Ennis would not then embrace him face to face because he did not want to see or feel that it was Jack he held. And maybe, he thought, they’d never got much farther than that. Let be, let be.”


I realize of course that those words did not appear in the movie so I would not criticize anyone else’s interpretation, nor would I suggest that mine is any better or more accurate than anyone else’s. It’s just the feeling I hold onto because it hurts too much for me to contemplate a world where Jack gives up on Ennis.   
 

Oh and having read many other message boards on this topic when the movie first came out, I have to say that like both of you I thought the accident as described by Lureen sounded a little implausible but a lot of people posted that such an accident is not actually that unheard of. Go figure. I don’t know anything about cars. Or tires.  ::)
For a moment in our lives. Forever in our hearts.

"They were respectful of each other’s opinions, each glad to have a companion where none had been expected." ~ BBM Short Story

There are three ways to ultimate success:
The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind. (Mister Rogers)

Offline davidinnyc

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Re: Ennis VS Randall
« Reply #9 on: Mar 16, 2018, 11:22 AM »
I think that the message of the movie is about the impact of societal homophobia on one man. Because it doesn’t matter how Jack died. What matters is that Ennis believes he was murdered. He was always convinced that this was the inevitable end for two men who wanted to be together – at least one of them would be dead at the hands of angry men. It’s what he was wired to believe. The tragedy of the story is that Ennis never escaped the lessons of his youth and the image of Earl in that ditch. He was never able to see a world where two men could be happy – and safe – together.

Thanks FlwrChild for your post. I think what you said it very insightful and offers a different perspective to look into Jack's death.I have a few points to make based on my understanding of your post, tho. If my understanding is off, please let me know. Haha.

1. I get the point that it's not how Jack died matters but rather how Ennis believes he died matters. Like I said, I think it's very insightful. But I get a hint of the reasoning here being "Lureen's ambiguous story gives Ennis a chance to believe Jack's murdered, thus we can see Ennis can never escape his childhood shadow." I personally think this argument is not logically strong enough. If the point is "Ennis cannot escape his childhood and believes Earl's death is how gay men end", then the stronger case to make the point would be "Ennis believes Jack's murdered even when he was told Jack died in a plausible accident, like a car accident". Right now Lureen's story doe not only make Ennis think Jack's murdered, it also make many other people feel like something is off and those people don't have the same childhood issues that Ennis has. It's just a fishy story, not just to Ennis, but to everyone. I think even for people who choose to believe Lureen's story had to give it a second thought and tried to convince themselves this might be some weird possibility.

2. I personally have no car fixing experience either. But I think you don't need that experience to doubt the credibility of Lureen's story. It's basic physics. When the tire blows up, there is an energy release (gravitational potential energy) and it's possible the rim could fly out. When the rim flies out, it can only fly out horizontally and not upwards. If the rim hit Jack's face, that means Jack was almost lying on the ground fixing the car, which is odd already. But let's say somehow Jack's face was hit by the rim. No matter what, the rim can only hit Jack's face once. And according to Lureen, this one hit accomplished 4 things: "break his nose""break his jaw""knock him unconscious""on the back". It's highly impossible that the flying rim would carry that much energy to do this. It's a tire rim, not a bomb.

I agree that Ennis has his own issues. But I don't think that's the only message that film makers are sending here. If Lureen told Ennis that Jack died from a car accident (which is a lot more plausible) and Ennis still thinks Jack's murdered in his head, then the movie still leaves Jack death ambiguous because we still can't tell if Lureen told the truth and Ennis obviously doesn't believe her. If the movie ended this way, I think the message focus more on Ennis' issue. It's his own issue that took away his happy life together with Jack. But the movie makers let Lureen told a cover-up sounding story, I think it implies more about Jack's murder and Ennis' fear is real and necessary. That's why many gay man like Ennis live in fear.