Some may argue that the Potter stories aren’t romance. They’re certainly not traditional, adult ones, but here comes my big However.
Over the course of 7 books and 8 movies of bildungsroman, we’re following the natural evolution and maturation wherein young wizards’ and witches’ thoughts turn to love, not to mention witnessing various adult relationships and even marriages. There are plots and subplots of normal teenage drama in parallel with the paranormal, saving-the-world-sized drama, and that’s part of the charm of the characters and the books. So, as I approached the final film, there was, I’ll admit, a certain sense of anticipation where the major characters and their romances are concerned. After seeing the movie, I felt shorted. Too brisk, too distant, too superficial. Only one of the film’s three relationship moments didn’t let me down.
You know, in order to rant properly, I may have to be Spoilery McSpoilerson!
1) Hermione and Ron
Yes, we were waiting for that kiss, the one where Ron finally gets his Sacajawea braced and ready for conquest. The one where Hermione stops being perpetually exasperated with him and yields her practicality to an insensible moment. Just a second of recognition between them, where the roles swap, and she stops being the controller and he stops playing comic relief. I felt like I read that in the book, but what the movie presented was one of those quick, “Aren’t we so glad to be alive that we’ll snog whoever’s handy?” kind of interludes, broken almost immediately into awkward pal-ly laughter, of all things. That made it seem even more like a panic reflex than the culmination of a romantic spell brewing for, seriously, thousands of pages.
I blame the arms-length approach of the director. It wasn’t the kiss that needed to last, but I needed a second or two of transformation on each face—Hogwarts only knows we see enough close-ups of Harry, and these actors are good enough to carry it off—that we could have seen that relationship shift, irrevocably deepened and complicated. Not enough time anymore to be annoyed or hurt or afraid. Instead, it was a mac-attack that seemed designed so Ron could loudly champion Hermione as his “girlfriend” in more comic relief later.
I get that they didn’t want to bog down the action with baring of souls or speeches of disclosure, but it wasn’t enough or quite the right note for me, not when I think these characters have been through so much and had to grow up so quickly. Even something very short and sweet could’ve worked if it were allowed to be important. Better direction and letting these actors visibly feel something rather than just grabbing each other would’ve sold that moment, no matter how long, with a lot more ooomph, I thought. And that brings me to. . .
2) Ginny and Harry
When your boyfriend’s the hero of the world, and he digs you and you both oh-so-knowingly know it, I suppose certain things can be simply understood. But all of them?! The first time Ginny sees him back at Hogwarts, they don’t run to each other, not even for a handshake, and not even so Ginny can see her brother alive. She and Harry sort of long awkwardly for each other from several yards away, so oddly that they have Ron make the aside that Ginny doesn’t even care about him, her own brother. That’s how you know she’s totally into Harry, I guess. After that hiccup of detached paralysis, she’s busy dutifully giving her report.
Later, when Harry is saying a quick before-death goodbye as he heads to the Forbidden Forest to serve as human sacrifice, she’s all “I know” without needing an explantion, without arguing, or even following him down a single step. Instinctively, she knows what he must do, so adios, buckaroo. I think it’s possible to be supportive and responsible without seeming as brisk as Mary Poppins. Theirs was, for me, the stiffest upper-lip of a kiss. Briefer than Hermione and Ron’s, which is fine, but I didn’t get the “I’ll come back to you” vibe. Obvious enough, since Harry didn’t think he would. But I also didn’t get the “glad to have loved you in this life” vibe which was far better played out by Harry with Ron and Hermione, when he left them on the steps. (This does bolster E. Henning’s argument that the romance is really a friend-mance.) Hasta luego, Harry, and when you’re being killed or kissed, just close your eyes and think of England. Not terribly fulfilling to me.
3) Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood
This relationship only exists in this movie, and maybe I like it partially because I was one who thought, during the books, that Luna and Harry would be interesting together. I always though Luna was sold a little short. Anyway, during the Battle of Hogwarts, the now rather-tall Neville says he’s going to tell Luna “he’s mad for her” before they all die. We’re not sure whether he gets the chance. Still, after he uses Godric Gryffindor’s sword to kill the last horcrux in the snake, he’s sitting in the debris of Hogwarts, battered and bloody-knuckled with the sword, staring in a daze as if he can’t believe he’s alive and that this monstrousness is really what legends are made of. Luna picks her way through the wreckage, gives him a silent, not-quite-smile, and just sits down close to him. To me, this relationship’s culminating moment held deeper tenderness and sweet comfort than the other two combined, and it’s the one purely invented for this film!
I might be crazy, but you’ll tell me so! Were you elevated or let down by HP7, part 2?