Forces of Nature

“I haven’t known you that long, but I think there may be something wrong with you.” 

Ben Holmes (Ben Affleck) needs to get to Savannah, Georgia for his upcoming wedding. A series of small disasters delay the groom, forcing unpredictable Sarah (Sandra Bullock) into Ben’s life. The two begin a strange friendship that make Ben question whether he should be getting married at all.

Sarah’s Problem
This lady is wacky. She doesn’t seem to put a lot of thought into her actions. Though she initially does not want to get involved with Ben, their constant interaction eventually makes Sarah more interested. Like quarantines (too soon?), any situations where people are forced to spend a lot of time together bring out the best and worst qualities in every individual of the group.mmforcesofnature1

Borderline Personality Disorder…?
There are meager suggestions that Sarah might struggle with BPD. She has a history of failed marriages and a child that prefers to be with his father than his mother. She becomes tearful and temperamental at the drop of a hat. She is charming and intoxicating. It is true that while all of these single traits could together point to a personality disorder, it’s not really enough for a diagnosis. Sarah’s emotional outbursts are triggered by poor interactions with other people; they’re not entirely out of nowhere.

Ben’s Problem
We’re biased here. Ben takes us on a journey and we are on his team, therefore, from the start. It’s only natural that we demonize Sarah as the obstacle in Ben’s way of getting home to Bridget (Maura Tierney). But that’s not true. Ben is his own obstacle. Sarah even points this out to him when he refuses to leave, asking Ben, “Why are you still here?” Although it might be too easy in context to look at Sarah as “the other woman,” it all comes back to the beginning. Ben was the one who sensed chemistry with Sarah; Ben is the one that will not leave Sarah when she has a tiny tantrum; Ben is the one who is stalling his trip home. The problem might then be his, not hers.

Cautionary Tale
Having questions, doubts, or stomach butterflies is completely normal before you get married. At least, that’s what I am told. Like giving a big speech or going back to school or buying a home, nerves are normal. mmforcesofnature2

What’s definitely not normal is deciding you’re in love with someone after you know them for two days and wondering if you should call off your wedding for this new person. In a world of online dating and feverish swiping, it’s easy to get Shiny Object Syndrome – the name I use for the phenomenon that something new often seems more exciting than something you know intimately. On one level, Forces of Nature examines temptation and wedding jitters; on another level, it warns that risking everything for something new may be completely disastrous. Shiny Object Syndrome speaks volumes about the person who has it; they are using the new, shinier object to distract from their own insecurities, woes, or doubts. The problem is not that new people or things exist; the problem lies in assuming that new always means better.

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