Jul 19 2011 3:30pm

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2: It All Ends...Limply

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!

Taunting us from HP7, Part 11) 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. . .


So strong, so alone2) 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.


Neville Goes Bad Ass- Like him this way!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?

Clare Toohey can usually be found around Criminal ElementWomen of Mystery, tweeting @clare2e, or inappropriately treating her post-adolescent angst.

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1. chloe8226
I agree with you about the Harry Ginny moment. The first time they see each other before the big battle I expected them to run to each other, a "I'm so glad you're still alive", and maybe show some worry about what's going to happen or that they missed each other. I was disappointed with how the movie handled that relationship. The Ron Hermione relationship did not bug me as much.
2. Mo
I could fill a novel with everything wrong with this movie. The relationships ended up as limp as the rest of it with one beautiful exception and that was Snape's story. I did like how Luna and Neville had their moment (Luna was always, as you say, shortchanged) and hubby really liked a Harry/Luna match.
Jill Slattery
3. JillSlattery
I have always favored Harry/Hermione, but I actually really liked the Ron/Hermione kiss in this film. I liked that they were alone and I thought it was a really intimate, sweet moment for them. And I loved the giggle at the end, because it reminded me that these kids are just that...kids. So it worked for me, which surprised me. As for

Harry/Ginny, that romance has NEVER worked onscreen and it continued to not work in this film. It was a perfect storm of anti-chemistry and a lack of caring on the part of the filmmakers. I totally agree with your assessment that his goodbye with Ron and Hermione was FAR more poignant than his goodbye with Ginny. I also loved the

Neville/Luna stuff, which I thought was really nicely handled in that last scene. Very lovely.
4. Hellion
I loved the Ron and Hermione kiss, but I've always liked how these two played out in film...and in the books. So yes, it wasn't long; there was no declaration (which wouldn't have worked considering how the film was going--it was too busy for declarations)--but it was sweet and passionate (of sorts) and funny, like they are.

I have never liked the Harry/Ginny in the movies. Loved them in the books--hated them in the movie. I seriously think Daniel Radcliffe must be a bad kisser or something--come on, show a little enthusiasm. And yes, all their scenes are very stiff-upper lips. Or it feels all the play comes from Ginny's side of the field--she's always the one making the first move, which annoys me. In the book, it's a mutual move. Very much anti-chemistry.

I loved Neville and Luna--completely made up, but brilliant and great stuff. I always thought those two should hook up anyway because they were both cutely odd.
Stephanie Treanor
5. Streanor
You know I had to comment on this one :)

I like many others have been waiting for the Ron and Hermione kiss and I would venture to say I liked the movie kiss BETTER than the book kiss and here are my reasons why:

1. Harry Potter did not interrupt the kiss like he did in the book. I agree with @JillSlattery their kiss was more intimate because they were alone. I understand they are the “trio” who do everything together but honestly Harry did not need to be a part of their kiss.

2. Hermione didn’t initiate the kiss. Clare pointed out the role reversal in the book but when it came time for the kiss Hermione was the initiator not Ron. Call me old fashioned but at that moment I truly wanted Ron to be the one to grab and kiss Hermione. That would have been the TRUE switch in roles. When I read that, I felt Hermione was once again in control and Ron is following along. BUT in the movie their kiss was mutual which I felt was a very good compromise.

3. The “water sequence” Was I the only one who had the scene from Here to Eternity flash into my brain when this happened? I bet if it wasn’t a sewer they’d be rolling around on the ground. I really liked the special effect of the water, it felt like an added touch of grandeur, since this was an epic moment it forced the elements around them to mimic their unbridled passion. ;)

4.The laughter, yes I agree with Clare on this. I think the director could have put a little more thought into the end of the kiss. I don’t know why he choose to have them separate from one another completely after the kiss and laugh, it did take a little away from the passion of the scene and bring it to a “teenager” level. Which they are teenagers, this I do realize but they are up against so many adult issues and themes one tends to get lost and think of them as adults.. My conclusion I think they should have kept the laugh but not separate, they should have stayed in each others arms, looked into each others eyes and laugh. That would have come across as “wow we were so silly to have waited this long to kiss” instead of “haha I just kissed my friend”

Oh I have to add this swoon moment, the scene where Ron and Hermione (who is dressed like bellatrix) walk into Gringots to steal the cup of Helga Hufflepuff. I nearly jumped out of my seat when I saw a dark scruffy looking Ron, with long curly hair ands sporting a goatee SWOOOOOOOONNN He’s never looked that sexy. I’m surprised Hermione didn’t throw him down on the ground and snog him right there (I WOULD HAVE). Although I don’t know if he would have liked it much seeing as she was transformed into Bellatrix. Either way I wanted to see more of Dark Ron, that’s what I like to call him :)
Clare 2e
6. clare2e
@chloe8226 I feel you!

@Mo Snape's Was a tragic and eternal love. Delicious despair, anyone?

@ Hellion and JillSlattery Mmmm. Lots of not-so-much on the Harry/Ginny chemistry, but I think the Ginny actress is pretty good. Not her fault she got so tall during the filming. Radcliffe's always a little wooden, I must say--though he's improved--and that can't help sell the moment.

Love everyone's Neville/Luna High-5s!

@Streanor. You are ALL over it, as usual- yes love and laughs not "kised my pal!" But do let's confab on that Dark Ron. *sigh* and Yes! I feel so dirty.
romance reader
7. bookstorecat
O Snape, it's so, so sad. The only parts of the movie that moved me were the deaths and Neville's heroic moment. The romance was seriously lackluster.
Myretta Robens
8. Myretta
You know, none of this bothers me. As much as I think that the relationships among the three central characters are key to the books, and as much as I was rooting for Ginny since she first ran into Harry at the Burrow in her bathrobe in Chamber of Secrets, it never occurred to me that the Harry Potter books were expected to be romances. I read them as adventures, coming of age, hero's journey stories and the series really worked for me on those levels. The final film, like the final book was, in my opinion, a war story. Although there were scenes I envisioned differently and scenes I would like to have seen but here not included, ultimately, I think they did a bang-up job wrapping up the major issues and themes. And, while I'm glad everyone ended up together, I didn't expect romance from the series, so the lackluster romances did not significantly detract from my enjoyment.
9. Roos
I think it was done brilliantly and was not disappointed at all. If you remember from the books, Harry was not into teary eyed blubbery girls. Ginny knew she had to take back seat until the Voldemort thing played out. She is a very confident character.
10. nagandsev
Love the commentaries and agree about how effective it was in the movie for Ron & Hermione's kiss to mutually come together for it; likewise, I agree it would have been lovlier if the director would have let them still be embraced as they broke apart with the loving realisation of 'we were silly to have waited so long' to carry over - the giggle took me out of the former portentous moment - the dynamics of the kiss culminating and having climaxed the Horcrux's destruction.

As has been mentioned, even in canon it seemed, Harry and Luna have always had more in common- the death of parental figures, being singled out among their peers as the odd one, knowing and understanding the depth of lost, viewing and experiencing their worlds quite differently from others. The other possible pairing with Luna was with Neville, with similar empathies found in each's past; their quirky cute ways- so it was a lovely, warm touch that they were depicted on screen in DHp2.

The Harry/Ginny screen chemistry was lacking for me, not given enough attention; but I've grown use to the reserved depiction of it, and, yes, absolutely agree, Ginny has always known and accepted she'd have to take a back seat to Voldemort- in the book as well as on screen;-D!
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