3 months to go. Good feeling that. I was in town buying supplies for the adventure (half-price hiking trousers, travel towel with the absorption of a business card etc.) when I realised my magic red Cineworld card was going to expire on the first of July. Not wanting to extend said card as I’m away shortly and they only deal in 12 month commitments, I thought I’d treat myself to a final free flick, a last celluloid hurrah.
The summer blockbusters had all been seen so I opted for a movie whose poster was covered in 4 star reviews like confetti. Interesting leads. Quirky title. Never heard of it before but to hell with it, it’s free. So I flashed the card and shuffled to my seat in screen 6, laden with bags of outdoor gear and a giant coke, like a Nepalese Sherpa on the wean. It had been a long day so I didn’t really bother checking who else was already seated. It’s dark after all, and you don’t go to the cinema to make friends. Then two groups of teenage girls sat themselves down either side of me. Then a group sat in front. Then behind. Suddenly, the theatre was jam packed with them, right up to the front row, texting and giggling and munching popcorn in excited adolescent abandon. Apart from my row. My row were all whispering and pointing at the creepy older guy sat between them with all the bags. That was me. I slouched down and sipped my coke harder, which in retrospect gave an even creepier vibe to proceedings.
The film I’d selected was called ‘The Fault in Their Stars.’ It’s a teen-romance about a couple of book-nerds who are dying from cancer. It is one of the saddest films ever made. The final act is a series of emotionally wrenching crescendos, each one more painful than the last, washing over you like a miserable tsunami of tears. I sat through over two hours of anguish; supposed hero Willem Defoe turning out to be a sad drunk, the comedy sidekick going blind, the key love scene taking place in Anne Frank’s house (no joke). Everyone was crying. Not just subdued sobbing but full-blown wailing, shrieking, ugly crying. And there I remained, under my shopping, surrounded by all this, unable to leave as therefore I was turning my back on teenage cancer. The credits rolled like a funeral procession and I got out of there. It was raining. Of course it was raining. I figured that maybe I won’t miss my cineworld card after all.