Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pointe Blank Pressure

Media Moment: Grosse Pointe Blank
Queen-related: Under Pressure

I remember when this movie came out in 1997, the trailer featured Under Pressure and I made a mental note to myself that I should watch it when I get a chance to see if the song is actually used in the movie or relegated to trailerdom.

To my good fortune, it was on TV last week so I recorded it for a later viewing, which I got around to doing last night. As an aside, this John Cusack movie wasn’t as engaging as his films usually are for me. To be embarrassingly honest, Serendipity is still one of my favourite movies.

Here, Cusack plays a hitman who stumbles upon his own 10-year reunion for his alma mater, Grosse Pointe South High School in Michigan. A change of career has been brewing and getting reconnected with his family and old friends offers a fresh perspective on the important things in life. 

The moment at which Under Pressure begins to make an appearance is when Cusask is at his reunion and he meets up with an old acquaintance who has brought her infant child along. The song fades in as he meets the mother and she then promptly leaves the baby with him for a moment while she tends to another matter.

Consequently, he is left alone with an innocent child and begins to rethink his decade-long career. At this pointe, the camera zooms in on Cusack and then cuts to the baby’s face . . . all the while David Bowie begins to sing “. . . love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the light . . .” and we make the connection that he’s become conflicted about life (and death, I suppose).

One of my first reactions to hearing the song at this moment in the film was that it was a plot device meant to establish the date of his original high school graduation. But since the film was released in 1997, that would put his graduation at 1987 which is not quite early enough for Under Pressure’s presumable peak of popularity. Besides, I don’t recall seeing any other establishing dates at the start of the film, so I’m assuming, then, that the song was meant to underscore his state of mind at the moment of being with the infant.

Whatever the case, the use of the song in this scene did add to the mood of the film and was well chosen to personify his inner turmoil.

As pointe of interest, the end credits lists the song as being by “David Bowie (with Queen).” For me, this is the first time I’ve ever seen the song credited in such a fashion. Usually it’s Queen and David Bowie, or just Queen. But for whatever reason, Bowie got top billing here.

I never did finish watching the entire movie, though.

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