Women fall in love with the snap of a finger. As quick as they fall in love, they easily fall out of love. The typical stereotype is that men are the ones constantly hurting women’s feelings. The truth is, once a woman goes through a tough breakup, she spends a great deal of time building up her immunity, before getting infected by the next male species. In Nancy Meyer’s comedic romance, Something’s Gotta Give, Diane Keaton plays the role of Erica Barry, an independent, single, successful playwright who has not been infected by a man for a long time. Jack Nicholson plays the role of Harry Sanborn, a giant in the music industry. Harry and Erica are both around their sixties. Harry is dating Erica’s daughter, Marin. While Marin and Harry are at her mother’s Hampton’s house, Harry rushes to the doctor due to heart pains. Erica ends up nursing Harry, because Marin had to return to the city. While Harry and Erica begin to form an attraction for one another, Harry’s doctor who is Marin’s age, develops the hots for Erica as well. I believe Freud and psychoanalytic theory plays an important role in the reasons for attraction in all these characters.
Harry is a middle-aged man, with a great career. He attracts younger women. Harry has no intentions of getting serious with any of them. He merely finds pleasure and youth in spending time with women who are 1/3 his age. What would Sigmund Freud say about Harry? Looking at it from a Freudian perspective, Harry’s ID has a lot of desires. These desires include younger women. His ego feeds his Id and up until the end of the film, Harry’s superego does not do a good job controlling his ID. Some men come to an age where they are not able to accept that they are getting older. Chances are that they had a previously failed marriage and therefore never got into the habit of seriously committing again. Harry recaptures his youth by luring in younger women who yearn for a more mature and financially stable man.
Marin is the daughter of a broken marriage. Children of divorced families always have sort of repression. These repressed thoughts include blaming themselves for the separation, or being unconsciously angry and disappointed at one or both parents. Marin does not demonstrate acts of resentment or animosity in regards to her parent’s divorce. She is a glowing woman who loves her mother and father. The only fact laid out on the table for us viewers to grasp, is that she is dating a man way older than her. This shows that she lacked a father like figure in her younger years and finds confidence and safety in Harry. This is similar in Woody Allen’s Play It Again, Sam, when Allen’s friends wife says, “I guess I never got over my parent’s divorce.” Even though people seem to live a normal life after experiencing or witnessing a divorce, a lot of unconscious thoughts still float in the human mind.
Erica is the protagonist in this film. After a twenty-year marriage, a daughter, and a divorce, she has been living on her own for quite some time. Though she never remarried, she found comfort in being able to make decisions for herself. She is a well-known playwright in New York and is on the path of finishing her next play, when she meets Harry. Freud would say that Erica has trust issues, because she got out of one failed relationship and never felt comfortable enough to give dating another shot. She is very reserved, to the point where she wears turtlenecks in the summer. She has no urge to open up and feel free with expressing her true longings and wishes. Erica’s superego does a good job in controlling her ID! Harry brings out all of Erica’s unconscious desires. Harry learns to control (Superego) his desires (ID) and devote himself to one woman, Erica.
Freud, Sigmund. Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconcious. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1960.
Roth, Philip. Portnoy’s Complaint. New York: Random House, 1969.
Something’s Gotta Give. Dir. Nancy Meyer. Perf. Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves, and Amanda Peet. Columbia Pictures Corporation, 2003.
Play It Again, Sam. Dir. Woody Allen. Perf. Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. Paramount Pictures, 1972.