Honey You Are A Rock
by DICK CHENEY
At first it was difficult to decide what song exactly I should choose to commemorate the all-too-sudden passing of Gwyneth Paltrow's marriage from this earth. I was pretty much evenly decided between Marc Cohn's "Walking in Memphis" and "Gangsta's Paradise," until I remembered how my wife Lynne quietly whispered, "There's far too much Gwyneth to take in here/More to goop than can ever be found" when Chris Martin initially went outside of his marriage for a consolation prize. Her mane reminded me of a young Simba: Gwyneth can never be surpassed, only glided alongside, like an F-15.
I have been crying all night, and when I stopped crying and trying to make the lyrics of "Magic" apply to Chris Martin's weird affectation of considering pre-come "first orgasm", my tears evaporated. That's when my pride kicked in.
To console myself, I wallowed in what is perhaps one of GPalt's most underrated performances - her two hour long butchery of an English accent in Neil LaBute's weirdly flaccid Possession. In a rarity for a major actress, Paltrow plays ten years over her age, in a role that would make a lot more sense for her now that she is (1) crazypants and (2) showing the faintest glimpses of a middle age that most prayed would never arrive.
Possession concerns the romance between Maud Bailey (Paltrow) and a young American scholar portrayed by Aaron Eckhart. Together, they pursue the mystery of a literary affair centuries old. Despite ample use of awkward silences and the penetration of the American's anus with a quill pen, the two never quite generate the requisite chemistry to make their romance the slightest bit believable. Gwyneth's accent varies from slightly bad to utter and complete shit, but it's all worth it to watch her play a buttoned-up English professor whose idea of a compelling sexual experience means getting felt up on a weekday.
Possession switches back and forth between Gwyneth's genuinely sad accent and a literary romance discovered by the two scholars that took place during the late-1800s. The chemistry between the historical couple (Jeremy Northam and Pride and Prejudice's Jennifer Ehle) is equally lacking, especially since the woman seems to have a greater interest in an extremely attractive lesbian (Lena Headley). In contrast, Gwyneth's sudden movement and prevalence of onesies gets the heart rate moving a bit faster.
It is hard to think of who exactly Gwyneth ever had any chemistry with. She felt a lot more like Iron Man's mom, her version of Sylvia Plath turned her modest, and as Margot Tenenbaum she was so asexual that the only relationship she could ever consummate was with the mirror image of herself (Luke Wilson). She never even had to "consciously uncouple," her natural state was isolated, like an extremely shy owl.
Possession is a lot better on mute, since watching Gwyneth swish and strumpet around like she's hunting for the Declaration of Independence in National Treasure begins to take on a momentum of her own when you're not focused on how silly she sounds. You always knew that Chris Martin was in no way the right man for Gwyneth, because she would require a timeless beacon of sexuality that could unnerve her steely veneer, and allow her to come apart without being torn asunder. (I have been reading a lot of Courtney Milan novels, so my apologies.)
At the time it was released, Possession's main story took place in the present. Watching it now, both tales are period pieces. No one has a cell phone, and all interneting is done on Macbooks. A good twenty percent of the film, in fact, is just waiting for the Prodigy service to load whatever Usenet group had good information about the sex life of the unfortunately named Randolph Henry Ash. Things were pretty bad before the internet was instantaneous, but waiting for web pages to load added to sexual tension and brought baby lion cubs closer together.
I alluded to this earlier, but perhaps the main failing of Gwyneth's real life husband was that he thinks everything that comes out of his body is some holy object. The second he starts getting the least bit moist, he loudly exclaims "I'm coming! I'm coming!" and puts on a shit eating grin like he's just found all the differences between the two pictures in those Highlights puzzles.
The New York Daily News reported the two had been separated for some time, a relatively obvious state of affairs given that one can only pretend to take a man who writes a song concerning his adoration of clocks seriously for so long. Gwyneth's initial new squeeze, according to the paper, was a doofy looking entertainment lawyer who actually had the decency to keep up with her website. He would romance her with certain bon mots like, "Saw your website today," or "Good post GPalt" and she would melt into a small, Simba-shaped puddle. It is truly astonishing how little it takes to make some people happy.
Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in an undisclosed location and the former vice president of the United States.
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