Something Borrowed – Movie Review
Review by Stacey Tuttle
Rachel says, “This is who I am. I can’t just do what I feel and not what’s right.” But that is exactly what she has been doing throughout the whole affair.
Rachel has been in love with Dexter, her law school study buddy, since she met him. But, Dexter didn’t know that. Dexter started dating Rachel’s best friend, Darcy…which led to their engagement…to be married—just to be clear. The story takes place during Dex and Darcy’s engagement. Rachel’s two best friends, engaged, to be married. And she, Rachel, who always does the right thing, who totally values the will and the mind over emotions, does the wrong thing. The VERY wrong thing. She sleeps with Dexter. Actually, it’s more than that. She carries on an affair with him right under Darcy’s nose.
To be fair, he is equally guilty. He is cheating on his fiancé with her best friend.
Now, if Darcy was sweet, caring, humble and kind-hearted, we (the audience) would likely feel really bad about the fact that her best friend and her fiancé are sleeping around behind her back. BUT, she is not. Darcy is beautiful, exciting and captivating. She is the life of every party and the center of it, no matter whose party it is. She is a lot of fun, BUT she is also selfish and jealous and competitive. In the friendship between Darcy and Rachel, Darcy always wins and Rachel always yields.
Rachel and Dexter are similar in that they are both pleasers by nature. They are cautious and calculated. They both do what is expected of them, even when the course that is expected of them is not the course that they would choose. And so, because of their cautious natures, Rachel never thought someone as wonderful and handsome as Dexter would be interested in her. She assumed he would prefer Darcy over her. Darcy always wins, Rachel always yields, remember? And for Dexter’s part, he was trying to make the moves on Rachel, but when she walked away (yielding to Darcy), he complied. He didn’t fight for her. He never fought for anything in his life, really. He continually takes the path of least resistance…and with Darcy making the moves, the path of least resistance was to go along with whatever she wanted. Right on into the marriage and the house and the life she chose that he so obviously didn’t want at all.
Even though Darcy was the victim of both Rachel and Dexter’s betrayal/affair, the audience still feels like Rachel and Dexter are the victims. They are the victims of Darcy’s selfishness and insensitivity, held captive by their own good natures and kind hearts.
And just to make things even messier and more complicated, to be sure the audience doesn’t feel like Darcy is the victim…(we are supposed to pull for Dexter and Rachel)… Well, we find out that Darcy is just as guilty as Dexter and Rachel. She slept with (and got pregnant by) a total loser in their circle of friends. We find this out just as she finds out about the affair.
Of course, the wrath of Darcy is unleashed when she finds out about Dex and Rachel. She wasn’t mad that Dexter broke off the marriage (though she tried to claim she broke it off, Darcy is not one to be dumped; in her world, she is the only one who has a right to do the dumping). She even confessed to Rachel that she had had an affair and was pregnant and was very excited about it – she had no remorse. But the moment she found out about Dex and Rachel—there was no grace, no forgiveness, no understanding, no thought that she, the pot, should hesitate to call the kettle black.
The ending is a little bitter-sweet. For all her faults, Darcy has still been Rachel’s closest friend since childhood—a friend Rachel dearly misses. (And vice-versa, though Darcy doesn’t want to admit it.) But, Dexter and Rachel both finally found the courage to speak the truth about what they wanted out of life and fight for it. Rachel’s moment came sooner, she finally quit being Dex’s mistress and flat out asked him to leave Darcy if he really wanted her. She had the courage to force him to make a choice between them. And Dexter finally found the courage to tell Darcy and his parents that he had other plans for his life than the ones they were making for him. So, Dexter and Rachel get together after all.
WOW – there is just so much that is so wrong with this scenario I hardly know where to start. But, rather than focus on the ridiculous amount of cheating and lack of morals, I want to look at something that is deeper, that something that motivates their actions, both good and bad.
The movie is really about a crisis between doing what you know is right vs. what you feel.
Darcy is the epitome of doing what you feel. All she ever does is based on what she feels like doing. She doesn’t think about the feelings of others, or of consequences, or of morals or what’s right and/or wrong. She simply does what she feels. And she is a bit villainous because of that. She hurts people and her friends are weary of her selfishness.
Dexter and Rachel and the polar opposites of Darcy. They don’t ever think about what they feel like doing, they only ever do what they are “supposed” to do. I want to be a little careful here about how I say this though. I don’t actually think that they always do the right thing. Doing what you think others expect of you, doing what you are told you are “supposed” to do, is not necessarily the same thing as doing the “right” thing.
An example of this, of the right thing not being the supposed thing, is some men I knew who were in the ministry. For a Christian man, going into the ministry seems to be the right thing to do. And it may be. And then, once in the ministry, the expected thing was certainly that they remain in the ministry. They were good at it, so everyone expected that they would stay in that line of work. However, they felt God calling them to business. They were widely criticized for “leaving the ministry,” and it was very painful to know they were disappointing their fellow believers who didn’t understand or agree with their decision. Their actions were absolutely not what was expected of them. However, being obedient to what they felt God was asking them to do was definitely the right thing to do. They were able to have even greater ministry through the business world, reaching out to people who never would have set foot in the church. They were covert missionaries in the business world!
So, back to Dexter and Rachel. They live their lives pleasing others, doing what is expected of them. The problem is, they had desires and emotions and feelings too.
Feelings can be a little like that gopher game at Chuck-E-Cheese’s. You know, you have a mallet and are supposed to hit the gophers (ground hogs…whatever the critter they are!) on the head when they pop up out of the holes. You knock one down and another pops up. Sometimes multiple ones pop up at once and you find yourself completely out of control. This is how our feelings are. Repressing them, denying, shoving them back down and out of sight only works for so long… eventually, those feelings are going to come up and out. And, if you haven’t channeled them correctly and dealt with them honestly, they are going to catch you by surprise.
I think this is what happened with Dexter and Rachel. They weren’t honest with each other (and probably not entirely with themselves either) about their feelings. They thought they had dealt with them, gotten over them, controlled them. Dexter was getting married—he had redirected his feelings to Darcy, right? And Rachel, she was the maid of honor; law school was in the past. She’d had plenty of time to get over Dexter. Except she hadn’t. And he hadn’t.
If they had been aware of the dangers, they might not have allowed themselves to get so close. But they had been lying to themselves, assuming they were safe. It was fine to grab a drink together, alone, late at night. They were just old friends. Old friends with feelings for each other that, like the annoying little gophers were sick of being shoved under ground and were just looking for an opportunity to come up for air. And, the moment they found an unguarded hole to surface through, they all came rushing to the surface in an onslaught. It started with a drink, alone, together, late at night. Then, a shared cab ride home – makes sense, right? New York, one cab, save some money, have a little more time to talk… Then a kiss which led to a night together. They never saw it coming.
If you think you can shove your feelings down, deny them and through this control them, you are much deceived. It won’t work forever. I Corinthians 10:12 says, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.” Sometimes I think the most dangerous place to be is that place where you think you are safe from temptation. That’s when you are blindsided.
I am not saying that the response to feelings then ought to be Darcy’s—to let them have complete freedom of expression. That is equally problematic.
There has to be a middle ground, and a standard to which feelings have to submit. Rachel found this place, finally.
Her good friend, Ethan, helped her find it. He gave her a little tough love and asked some hard questions. He was frustrated, rightfully so, that Dexter wasn’t making a move to commit to either Darcy or Rachel. He was sleeping with Rachel and continuing on with the wedding plans with Darcy. Ethan was equally frustrated that Darcy was allowing this to happen. He asks her, “How long will you let this go on? His wedding day? Their first anniversary? …Are you going to become one of these women who’s just waiting?” That’s what she was doing. She was just going with the flow, taking what ever scraps Dexter through her way, making excuses for his cowardice. Ethan told her, “I can’t take this ‘Daddy beats me because he loves me’ excuse.” Ouch! That’s the kind of friend Proverbs 27:6 talks about when it says, “Better the wounds of a friend than the deceitful kisses of an enemy.” Truth hurts, but it hurts so good.
Wow. Tough love. But he’s right. If Dexter loved her, he would end it with Darcy and marry her outright. If he didn’t, she didn’t want to be his mistress, waiting on something to change for the next several years…she didn’t want to be doing that for the next week even!
Rachel had some tough decisions to make. She had to find that balance between what was expected and what she felt. She had to find the right thing to do. It was expected in her relationship with Darcy and as maid of honor at their wedding that she let Darcy win (i.e. get out of the way with Dexter). It was expected of her because of the role she played, but also because people knew her, and that is how she had always behaved. It was expected that she just shove her feelings down and walk away.
On the flip side we have her feelings – she was in love with Dexter, and had been for years. She also knew he cared for her and was only marrying Darcy because of the expectations placed on him. She loved him enough to feel for the fact that she knew he was about to consign himself to a life of misery. Her feelings, if allowed to continue to have free reign, would lead her to continue in the affair. They would lead her to continue to take whatever Dexter would give her, to be at his beck and call, but never push for a choice from him because her feelings were also afraid that she might lose what little of him she had.
And then there’s the right thing to do. Rachel finally realized the right thing was to, first, quit doing the wrong thing. It was wrong to be sleeping with her best friend’s fiancé…for a number of reasons.
Second, the right thing was to be honest about how she felt. She couldn’t pretend that she didn’t care. She couldn’t pretend that she was happy with the previous arrangement (her being his secret girlfriend). She couldn’t pretend that she didn’t want more – when she was honest with herself, she knew she wanted to be his wife. Nothing less. She had to be honest with herself and with Dexter as well.
And she was. She put it all on the line. She admitted to him what she wanted, but also that she wouldn’t go about it in the wrong way any longer. So, she urged him to call of the wedding and marry her. But, marry Darcy, marry her, he couldn’t have both. He had to choose.
She wasn’t sure what he would do. In fact, it seemed for a while that he wasn’t going to be courageous enough to face Darcy and call it off. But she had done, finally, the right thing. And she had peace. She had been courageous. She had risked it all, but she had done it rightly. She finally found balance between her mind and her heart.
I truly think the church today is filled with Rachels and Dexters. Matt Chandler, my pastor back in Dallas, used to say frequently from the pulpit, “I’m going to be honest with you about my junk…I mean, I know this is church and it isn’t the place for honesty, but I’m going to be honest.” We would all laugh, but we all knew he was speaking the truth. We, the church, haven’t traditionally been very honest about our struggles, about our feelings, our desires. We assume that desires are wrong and try to pretend we don’t have them. But, it’s not true that desires are wrong. Desires themselves are neutral. It’s how you handle them that becomes right or wrong, good or bad.
But, because we are a people that haven’t been entirely honest about our desires, the church in America (maybe elsewhere, but I will stick with what I know) is full of those darned gophers popping up in the most inconvenient places, causing all manner of trouble.
What if Rachel had been a little wiser in dealing with her gopher? What if she had refused to kiss Dexter, but instead been able to have that talk with him then? What if she had been able to say, “I can’t kiss you, Dex. That wouldn’t be right to do to Darcy (do unto others, right?). And I won’t be happy to just be your mistress or have a one night fling. I like you – I have always liked you. And if you aren’t sure about Darcy, if you have any feelings for me, then call of the wedding and then we can see where this thing goes. But otherwise, I’m off limits to you.” What if she had been able to be that courageous at that moment? For starters, at the very minimum, she wouldn’t have anything to hide from Darcy and they may have been able to stay friends.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I fear we have got to do a better a job of reconciling our hearts and our minds. That process of reconciliation starts with being honest with the Lord. We confess to him what we feel is expected of us. We tell him what we think and we tell him what we feel…we admit our desires. Why do we need to tell our desires to God? For a lot of reasons. It’s admitting that we are potentially weak in this area. It’s recognizing that HE is sovereign God of all, and that nothing happens without his stamp of approval. So, when we tell Him our desires, we are submitting them before Him for his say in the matter. “Lord, I admit that I want this. What do you think?” We can ask him to change our desires if He wants to. We can ask him to allow them to come true, if He wants to.
At the heart of it all, after we have told Him what we feel and what we want, we then ask Him what is the right thing to do. “This is what is expected of me, but this is what I feel…what is the right course of action, Lord?” Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” We had best be telling God what ways seem right to us and asking for His opinion, lest it lead us to death. Death of our character, death of relationships, death of our finances…death comes in many forms. But Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). When we let him guide us, we will find the way to life.
Questions for Discussion:
- Who do you relate to more: Dexter, Rachel or Darcy?
- Do you tend to live more by what’s expected of you or what you feel?
- What are the gophers in your life? What things to do you try to deny but find they keep coming up, often when you least want them to?
- Have you ever found yourself in a position similar to Rachel’s, waiting on a man, making excuses for him, hoping he’ll come around and commit to you, but afraid to put it to the test?
- What has your experience been with Christians and the church? Have you found it to be a place of honesty or hypocrisy? Would you describe it more like an emergency room full of patients who have come to find healing, or a plastic surgeon’s office? Which of those images do you think you personally convey to others?
- Have you ever had a time where you thought you were standing firm and out of temptation’s path, but then you fell?
- How hard is it for you to find the right thing to do in the midst of what you are supposed to do and what you want to do?