I love so-bad-they’re-good movies. It’s fun to yell at the screen, give a loud, dramatic gasp when oh my gosh I never saw THAT coming! or rant at the characters for making stupid decisions.
I enjoy it. With a bad movie, there is no pretence. It’s just plain old bad. It’s like a form of catharsis. But then, a friend of mine introduced me to the The Test. And, in The Test, I met my match.
The Test is the story of Nathan who puts his fiancée, Julia, through a series of increasingly bizarre ‘stress tests’ in order to see if she is worthy of marrying him.
There are five steps that a movie viewer goes through when watching The Test. I am here to guide you through them. You are welcome.
When you start watching The Test the feeling is akin to that of being slapped in the face with a decaying fish. You look at a scene with disbelief:
He’s not actually hired an actor to test her fidelity, has he? you ask in horror. He’s not peering through the glass of the restaurant to spy on her responses, is he?
Yes. Yes, he is.
This second stage is the worst, and I’d suggest getting over it as quickly as possibly. Nathan pretends he’s been fired from his job due to accusations of insider trading.
“You’re lying to her now, to see if she’ll believe you when you do tell the truth to her about not being dishonest?”
(Logic. It’s a beautiful thing.)
Yes, he does arrange for his fiancée to be fake fired from her job (If she is completely desolate will she still love him?). But you know what? To quote the movie:
It’s not crazy. It’s love.
For reasons only apparent to the script-writer, Julia still believes his innocence and is willing to be homeless on a Hawaiian beach with him.
BUT DON’T WORRY! He ‘gets his job back’ and it doesn’t matter about her job (which she still has, but doesn’t know she has) because “she’ll be his wife”.
Despite the fact that we’ve no evidence as to why they love each other (and therefore, no evidence for why they shouldn’t love each other) Julia is prepared to stand by him. BUT THEN TWIST. SHE HAS HER JOB BACK!!
Honestly, that Nathan! Such a catch!
Okay. So he’s a bit … emotionally unintelligent and a touch dim and he is definitely narcissistic, you say. But, like, it can’t get any worse. Surely.
By this time, Nathan is enjoying the experiment. ‘Would she die for me?’ he asks with pathos that surely belong to Hamlet.
“I’d take the bullet for her.”
“That’s very chivalrous.”
“I’m just that kind of guy.”
It’s important to know if your partner would die for you. Dreadfully so. In fact, I’m almost certain that it is probably included in any number of pre-marriage counselling sessions.
Nathan knows this. But pre-marriage counselling sessions are beneath him. He is so dedicated to the cause of proving Julia is worthy of him that he arranges a home invasion.
What a guy!
It takes some nagging but Julia declares:
“Okay. I’m willing to die for you. Now will you just DROP IT!!!”
For some reason, Nathan doesn’t feel that her response is good enough, and that she wouldn’t be prepared to die for him.
The first time, I watched this movie the whole way through. The second time, I had to stop the movie. It was too hard to go on. Life had lost its meaning. I would have cheerfully stomped barefoot in a room full of Legos or – as one review puts it ‘licked a brick wall’ rather than to have continued.
But one must push through.
… which Nathan does too! He thinks that Julia’s ‘B-‘ is a bit rubbish. He won’t settle for anything less than an ‘A’. He needs one.
So he comes up with the genius plan of faking a coma.
It’s not crazy. It’s love.
Now, I did have some screenshots to share with you. But my computer decided to make them all grey and as:
- I refuse to spend money on this movie for the third time
- Nope. It’s just that. I. Refuse.
Please imagine Nathan on a hospital bed, faking a coma whilst his hysterical fiancée is mourning him for reasons that completely escape me at this point.
And then of course, he ‘wakes up’ (after his buddy threatens ‘I’m pulling the plug. No pun intended’ thereby ruining all puns for me forever more. You monster) and pretends to have amnesia.
Don’t worry! He ‘remembers’ Julia – just in the nick of time too! It’s a scene with emotion – similar to one from a Shakespearean play or a Nicholas Spark movie, in that all three have people saying lines.
At this point, you are beyond outrage. Beyond everything. This movie exists and you are watching it. Watching as Julia discovers Nathan’s ‘stress tests’ on her wedding day. Watching as she calls him out. Watching as Nathan does the adult thing and blames his friend. Watching as … as… Watching as the truly spectacularly hysterical and completely beyond any rhyme or reason ending happens.
In the end, we have no idea why Nathan and Julia are in love. They tell us they are. The movie says they are. And, so they must be.
This movie transcends all such things as ‘acting’ ‘comedy’ ‘writing’ ‘cinematography’ ‘production’ ‘screenplay’ ‘character growth’ ‘chemistry between actors’ ‘editing’ etc. One must look past these mortal coils and peer far, far, far, far, far beyond them – to where the movie’s heart lies.
And at its heart – deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep down – are the ambiguous messages of trust, fidelity, commitment and above all, love.
It’s true: the movie handles them with the skill of a dizzy toddler performing open heart surgery, the gentle subtlety of a sledgehammer, and the clarity of muddied stream brimming with dead rodents … but I think, to finish this guide to The Test, I will leave you with a quote from Nathan, that is in no way, shape, or form, an excuse for doing terrible things to the person you love:
Love makes you crazy