Holding on to the past is a detrimental but universal part of our existence. We all do it, but some attachments are more pathetic than others. No one could be much more pathetic than the main character of “Waiting for Forever.”
The movie, which co-stars “The O.C.” cutie pie Rachel Bilson, follows Will, a floater in his late twenties who returns to his Pennsylvania hometown to see his childhood friend, Emma (portrayed by Bilson). Emma and Will were inseparable buddies until his parents were killed in a train accident and he and his brother were forced to live with relatives in Massachusetts. Saying goodbye to Emma was hard, but Will never forgot what Emma told him: “They will always be there. You will always be loved.”
Will goes back to Pennsylvania after he learns that Emma, who is a Hollywood actress, has come home to visit her mom (Blythe Danner) and dying father (played by the phenomenal Richard Jenkins). At first, it’s cute to see Will hitchhike across the country to see Emma, but we quickly learn that he has been following her for a very long time. Will’s older brother, who is married with children, comes out and says it qualifies as stalking, and I wholeheartedly agree. Though he hasn’t seen Emma in years, Will believes they can pick up where they left off in grade school, even though they’ve changed immensely since then. Will is an unemployment nomad by choice who wears pajamas in public and Emma is a Tinseltown starlet in a bad relationship. She cheated on her aggressive boyfriend with another guy, and this doesn’t go over so well with her bald, scary-looking flame.
Meanwhile, Will tells his friend’s baby all about his plans to profess his love for Emma. “I’m going to tell her I love her and that I’ve always loved her. In my dreams, I breathe her in, I inhale her…and I feel her in the blood of my heart,” he says, creeping out his male friend, who consults other women to see whether they’d be horrified or flattered if such a comment were directed at them. They adore it, but that’s probably not what you want to hear from a guy with whom you haven’t interacted in 20 years. Will’s older brother often chastizes him for not working, being homeless, and following Emma without actually communicating with her face-to-face.
When they finally do cross paths in their old neighborhood, Emma greets him with something along the lines of, “Look at you, whiskers,” to which he responds, “Look at you, breasts.” Of course, Will lacks the social grace to put on some real clothes or even pretend he has a purpose for being back in Pennsylvania. Emma doesn’t take it well when Will says he has been following her all her life. This crushes his idealistic, free spirit, and he learns what many of us figured out in high school: people change.
As to be expected, Emma is hysterical when Will reveals he has been following her for years. It starts when he says she dropped sixty cents in his hat when during one of his street clown performances. Because he was wearing makeup, Emma didn’t recognize Will, and she is disturbed to hear that he neglected to say hello when she left him the money, which he kept.
“Wait, you’ve been following me?” she says.
“No, I go where you go.”
“So you’ve been following me?” she says again.
At the beginning, you root for Will and Emma to date, as she helped him through a difficult period of his life, but you want to slap him across the face for holding onto something that never really was. It’s understandable that Will loves Emma because she was the only person to support him when his parents died, yet you can only coast off that for so long. Nevertheless, everyone knows what it’s like to soak up the final encounter they had with an old love and hope that more memories will be made with the person in the future. Most of us wouldn’t choose a life of poverty to have the freedom to chase our childhood love, but we do wish such a risk would be worthwhile for the one bold enough to take that path.
Though it has a solid cast, “Waiting for Forever” is far from a cinematic masterpiece. The weak plot line and main character’s delusional fantasies limit the movie’s chances for success, but it’s the all too familiar case of unrequited love and hopeless pining to which viewers can relate. If you’ve ever wanted to go back to a certain point in your life, relive your chilhood, reconnect with an old friend, or get back into a special relationship you wish never ended, you’ll appreciate “Waiting for Forever,” which shows us that life may not be “peachy” but has to power to surprise you with its beauty.