I thought of the song when I watched Sarah Polley’s film, Stories We Tell. This documentary unfolds the family secret that the film maker is the daughter of her mother’s lover. It was not Sarah’s search for the biological father that moved me. It was the vivacious young wife, Dianne who touched my heart. Her husband appears to be rather heroic. He states in the film that he would have happily raised Sarah whether or not he fathered her. But what kind of man casually says that it’s okay if his wife had an affair. To me his tolerance is repugnant. Why wouldn’t he feel even a little anger? If he had known what was happening in another man’s bedroom, would he have fought for Dianne?
Fascinated by Polley’s focus on infidelity, I watched an earlier movie she directed, Take This Waltz. This comedy-drama, tells the story of Margot, a young woman also unsatisfied in her marriage. She seeks a more passionate lover, an artist called Daniel. The marriage ends. Again, the husband, Lou, is not distraught. He responds with philosophical sadness.
Odetta’s folk song kept running through my head. You can see what careless love has done to me. Dianne becomes pregnant with another man’s baby and keeps the secret and shame. At the end of the second movie, Margot appears to be regretful that her marriage ended. Both women suffer for what seem to be rash actions. After I watched these movies, I asked myself who are the careless lovers? In my mind, it is the husbands. In both films passionate wives are left to their own devices by inattentive husbands. What a pity to be loved in such a cavalier and careless fashion.