I wrote this for Little White Lies, but what the hey, you guys can get a sneaky preview:
In a fit of benevolent insanity I accompanied someone to watch Watchmen last night. And sweet lord of CGI blue phalluses, I wish I hadn’t. Even if you loved the comic book (which I can’t honestly say I did, although I did give it another chance after I got home) I don’t know how anyone could have sat through all one hundred and sixty three minutes without thinking that, just maybe, they were wasting their life. I huffed. I puffed. I complained to the person next to me. I made little forest scene pictures on my skirt with bits of popcorn. I tried to have a nap.
But, I didn’t leave.
You see, actually leaving a film is much harder than it looks on paper. Firstly there’s the investment. Even when a film is so drear that your emotional investment begins and ends with wondering when all the main protagonists are going to die, there is the financial investment to consider. If you have just handed over the best part of a tenner to watch something, it can be more than a little disheartening to walk out half way through. It’s like leaving a holiday when you’ve already paid for the hotel. Or dumping someone just after you’ve finally bought nice underwear.
Secondly, you have the whole social etiquette of the thing. Just how do you walk out of a film, without offending the person you’re with. And isn’t it terribly rude to shuffle past someone, mid-film, when they haven’t seemed to notice that they are watching pure cinematic drivel?
Well, of course, the only thing is to brazen it out and go full throttle. To date I have walked out of around eight films and have switched off countless DVDs. These include (and please do not judge me for these, as I say, I walked out): Sunshine, Sweeney Todd, Deathproof, Role Models and The Hulk. I have been tempted to walk out of small, indie, artsy films too, by the way, not only this kind of big box office blasting block busters. But – and this is shameful to admit – I get more embarrassed leaving art house films because I think people are judging me.
So, here is my fail-proof, fool-proof method for leaving a terrible film:
Step One: Mutter loudly to your neighbour about how this is “the most misogynistic / the most boring/ the least believable / the most patronising/ the most violent thing I’ve ever seen”.
Step Two: Quickly eat all your snacks – it’ll make you lighter for the getaway.
Step Three: Use your phone or bike light to subtly pack up your handbag. There is nothing worse than having to crawl back to your seat to pick up your house keys.
Step Four: Don’t lie. As you ask to push past everyone’s cramped and disgruntled knees, just whisper, “Sorry, I’ve got to leave. This is awful”. They’ll appreciate your honesty, and you never know; you might cause a back seat revolution.
Step Five: Whistle the tune from the Great Escape and you saunter off into the distance. Leaving a film, if done correctly, can be like skiving from school, or running away from a terrible date; the rush of adrenaline it leaves you with will far outweigh any guilt, shame or sense of anti climax.