Have you seen the way she looks at him? In the context of the dystopian joyride known as Mad Max: Fury Road one might find that question silly or inane. Love seems far and away in that world. Max and Furiosa? No. Nux and Capable. I asked that question to my friends because I thought it was an often forgotten tangential plotline. It added an extra layer of tragedy to the already dour film and I always looked for it. But no one else seemed to see the trajectory of this seemingly one-sided romance. Naturally, we decided to rewatch the film. We saw as the sands take up heaps of metal and men, war machines spit fire while men spit oil, and the sense of hope fall ever lower. We saw the grizzly deaths of men on an insatiable quest for the splendors of Valhalla. We witnessed them. And among all this there was a girl, looking fondly at a boy tragically unawares of her rays of affection. There is love to find on the fury road.
Every time Nux and Capable share the screen, there is a glance, a look, a smirk, or real eye to eye connection felt. It is my favorite part of the movie and it is completely superfluous to the proper plot. I would also go as far to say it makes Mad Max a contender for the best romance of 2015. I don’t watch romances, but this simple barebones romance has to be at the top. On the production side, I love the idea of someone giving Riley Keough, who played Capable, the direction to evince ideas of romance subtly. It is an aspect of her performance that might go unnoticed, but should not go without praise. Equally as amusing is the idea that Nicholas Hoult, as Nux, was given direction to be oblivious. Or maybe none of this happened and it is merely a result of happy coincidences, perfectly timed shots, and editing. In the end it doesn’t really matter as it is in the film.
In minutia that I find my love of film truly resides. Though this morsel of a story, really just a reduction of the boy meets girl trope, was completely separate, it remained impactful.
In all these observations there is a lesson about watching films in general. You can find so much to love in the small moments of films, separate from the mainstays of the production. Somebody made this happen, knowingly or unknowingly. I’d like to believe that someone is dropping the breadcrumbs on purpose, instead of just being messy. So just as George Miller tracked our eyes with the big gorgeous chase scenes, he tracked out sense of romance with small, more nuanced moments defined by the work of his actors.
But more interestingly is what we choose to watch when see a film. Miller is a master at ensuring the audience sees what he wants them to see, but as free persons we can look wherever we please. Without getting into psychoanalysis, there was some reason that I saw this accessory plot movement while my friends did not. Maybe I just was looking in the right place at the right time, but maybe I was mentally positioned to see it. Which leads to me to question, what am I missing when I watch films?
I never was a fan of rewatching a film, because I thought of those ventures as quote mining opportunities for the few films that deserve it. Rewatching films may seem like a time suck, but for those films that offer up a world in which to truly get lost, there are likely many more small moments to find and love.
Even in the fiery, unforgiving world of Mad Max keen viewers can find little moments that suggest that, even in a world belonging to the mad, the mad are still capable of love.
Featured Image By Warner Bros. Pictures