(Gi) So what? To "sleep with" someone doesn't mean giving away you
privacy to them
But if you thought he/she was the one, then surely a key to your flat
wouldn't be an issue. Another sign that Paul wasn't interested in a serious
relationship with Sarah. The issue of the key had never crossed my mind
until this discussion, and I'm not sure it crossed NH's either.
I've never read the book either. Would you recommend it to help understand
the film more?
I have read the book, but I don't think it helped understand anything
much except the various scores of Arsenal's matches through out the 70's
and 80's! The film appeared to be vee-rry loosely based on the book, in
that it's about a football-obsessed bloke from Maidenhead and that's about
it (or maybe I skipped a few pages and missed the plot!)
(me) At this point they've been sleeping together for more than
(Gi) So what? To "sleep with" someone doesn't mean giving away your
privacy to them
But giving her a key would keep him from having to trudge up and down
those stairs all the time. On the other hand, we wouldn't have the pleasure
of seeing him trudge up and down the stairs. I understand your point now
about the plot device, Emma. ;-)
(Judy) Another sign that Paul wasn't interested in a serious relationship
IMO he is v. serious. In the restaurant after she tells him "I haven't
made up my mind what I'm going to do about this yet":
Sarah: I can't see this working out.
like others of his gender, has a problem articulating his feelings. Flowers
'n chocolates. That'll do it!
Paul: This is my last chance.
Sarah: Don't be so silly. What does that mean?
Paul: I don't know. That's just what it feels like.
Paul: This is my last chance.
That snippet of conversation is not proof that Paul is serious, Sarah
makes all the moves in their relationship. Marriage only occurred to Paul
when he found out about the baby. If it wasn't for the baby, I think their
differences would have drove them apart eventually.
Let me make this perfectly clear, the nonfiction book does NOT contain
anything of the story line (except the Arsenal season) from the movie.
However, the voiceovers have been lifted from that book.
What benefit it does provide is little bits and pieces that Hornby threw
in from his life that actually do enhance your understanding of the character.
None of these are crucial to your enjoyment of the movie. One example is
the ritual of the sugar mice that Steve refers to while they're playing
pool, which is glossed over. Another is when he first visits the apartment
and is checking out the knick knacks. Hornby devotes several paragraphs
to what you can tell about girls by the furnishings in their rooms.
I was so intrigued by her tastes and whims and fancies, and
her belongings induced in me a fascination for girls' rooms that continued
for as long as girls had rooms. (Now I am in my thirties they don't have
rooms any more—they have flats or houses, and they are often shared with
a man anyway. It is a sad loss.)
So that's why Paul is so interesting in knowing whose stuff it was. He
was sizing her up. He's not that simple.
Girls' rooms provided countless clues as to their character and background
and tastes; boys, by contrast, were as interchangeable and unformed as
foetuses, and their rooms, apart from the odd Athena poster here and there...were
as blank as the womb....We had passions instead of personalities, predictable
and uninteresting passions at that, passions which could not reflect and
illuminate us in the way that my girlfriend's did...
Oh yes, and I don't think there was anything "malicious" in trying to
cover up his preoccupation with Arsenal. I merely think he was embarrassed
and desperately grasped at something/anything so he wouldn't look like
a moron in her eyes. ;-)
And about those keys. They are in the nonexistent purse with her wallet
needed to pay the cabdriver. ;-)
Actually, I can imagine a scenario where Sarah asks for a key (all perfectly
efficient in her mind). He agrees, but cannot be relied upon to have a
duplicate made. She keeps asking and he keeps forgetting to get it done.
Finally, she says, "I can do it for you (just like the fixture list scene
in bed)." And Paul says, "You don't understand us. You never will." ;-)
(Judy) that snippet of conversation is not proof that Paul is serious.
Sarah makes all the moves in their relationship
Aren't most guys commitment-phobic? I certainly don't recommend pregnancy
as a ploy, but sometimes gals have to plant the seed of marriage as an
option in a relationship. ;-) Paul isn't a sleaze ball. IMO he was thinking
"for the long haul" eventually. He's not methodical or organized. He lives
It still bothers me that he sits in front of a blackboard covered with
misspelt names of famous writers. I come from a part of Europe where teachers
are expected to be paragons and it is sad to see that similar standards
are not always adhered to in my adopted home country.
I'm not sure that Sarah's the type to let the seed be planted on purpose.
After all she's worried about her job and she's not sure that she's going
to keep the baby. The shock at his half-hearted proposal shows that even
she's realizing that the relationship is eventually doomed.
I can understand Paul more than Sarah because I relate to his feelings
for his team. I've never taken to her character. For me it’s one of Colin's
most enjoyable and easy-to-watch films and for those reasons I've just
accepted the relationship as a happy-ever-after ending.
I think the biggest difference between Paul and Sarah is their people
skills. Paul has an easy relationship with most people; the students and
parents like him, not so with Sarah. The opening of the film—with the students
repeating Ms. Hughes—she started off on the wrong foot.
(Karen) And about those keys. They are in the nonexistent purse with
her wallet needed to pay the cabdriver.
It always bothered me that she left the kids' present behind. Unless
that polka dot dress has some very deep pockets.
(Tracy) Vee-rry loosely based
(Karen) The nonfiction book does NOT contain anything of the storyline.
But it must talk about Paul. Books always give one a better insight
into a character, and our discussions have always been enhanced by the
folks who have read the book.
Please explain "fixtures" re: Arsenal
(Judy) I can understand Paul more than Sarah because I relate to
his feelings for his team
LOL, Paul relates everything to his feelings for the team, even marriage:
Look, I know where this is going, and you're dead wrong. I am capable of
commitment and the long haul and all that stuff, and if it doesn't happen
with you, well, that's because of you, not me. Twenty-one years I've been
going to Arsenal. Twenty-one years!
Sarah: Paul I don't know if you've noticed , but Arsenal are a football
Paul: And you think there's a difference?
Sarah: Yes, I do.
Paul: Well, that shows what you know about it
I have no feeling for any football team. I'm only viewing it because
it's a Colin film.
In England we have fixture lists, where every league match is set out
for a full season.
I think their discussion of commitment illustrates the growing gap between
them. The two aren't meant to be. Now, in my role of a long-term football
fan, I'm more than willing to take her place ;-)
(Heide) And our dear Paul mistakes this sexual relationship with
a mature love relationship.
Coming from a broken home, he doesn't exactly have any good role models,
and it sure didn't appear as though little Paul liked being with his dad's
new family. Jungle Book, anyone? ;-)
Which leads to the very last scene, when Sarah said, "I've never seen him
so happy." maybe it helped her understand Paul a little better.
You're onto something there. She can probably understand him better
now because she's experienced it herself. Sarah is embraced by the crowd
and is swept up into the euphoria. She's not Miss Jean Brodie anymore,
as Paul says a bit later. She's singing, dancing and hugging babies with
everyone. Remember when Paul made that comment during his 18-year rant,
that maybe a little bit of her had gone missing? I think now she understands
that little "bit" much better.
(Emma) In the restaurant scene, the expression on her face was priceless
when Paul started comparing her to the football coach.
Wasn't it! I think RG was fine in the role and they made an adorable
(Arami) It still bothers me that he sits in front of a blackboard
covered with misspelt names of famous writers.
Was there more than one? And it was corrected in subsequent shots.
Note the erasure.
(Judy) the shock at his half-hearted proposal shows that even she's
realizing that the relationship is eventually doomed.
"Paul, you do talk some terrible nonsense." or "I've been impregnated
by a twelve-year-old." Those two pretty much sum up her feelings IMO.
It was Faulkener and Hemmingway, and as far as I recall,
you only see them on that one publicity pic. What I found interesting was
that Faulkener was corrected later in the film (and Hemmingway
not visible, I think). I would like to know the "behind the scenes"! Also,
how this little "Oscar" remark slipped into the kitchen scene. I bet it
wasn't in the original script, because why would Paul care about an Oscar.
(Evelyn) I have no feeling for any football team. I'm only viewing
it because it's a Colin film.
True, but it has given me a better perspective. In a way, being a football
fan is a lot like my CF obsession. Instead of games, there are movies,
videos, the internet, and a community out there, and we (most of the time)
hope and wish for the same things.
(Renate) It was Faulkener and Hemmingway, and as far
as I recall
So they only had trouble with the American writers.
(Karen) for their meaning you'd have to have read FP, the nonfiction
I read FP more than a year ago. It was a little like reading
a foreign language but it did give me a frame of reference when I saw the
movie. I have no recollection of Hornby's bit about knick-knack analysis,
though. Thanks for providing it.
(Karen) So that's why Paul is so interesting in knowing whose stuff
it was. He was sizing her up. He's not that simple.
Sorry, still don't agree. If the only line was “are they yours,” I
would, but the preceding “what are these for, then?” line when they're
obviously knick-knacks is, IMO, ludicrous. I interpret the exchange as
Paul's woefully inexperienced attempt at making conversation. It works
for me. ;-)
BTW, there's no Paul in the book. FP the book is a first person,
nonfictional account of NH's obsession. In most ways, Paul is Nick (especially
young Paul), but there's no Sarah (although Nick does bring a girlfriend
to a match once).
(Eileen) how Paul's love of Arsenal infects everyone around him.
(Karen) It's called colonization and will leave it at that or else
will turn into Shazzer and go into huge rant. ;-)
*switching to sports fan mode* I don't agree, completely. Jo's wry
comments about colonization (i.e., involvement in or following a sport
or hobby as a means of facilitating a relationship) best apply to Sarah
but not equally to Paul's mother and sister, Jo, Robert and Robert's mother.
Paul's mother may have started out colonized by her son, but now she's
a fan in her own right.
(Karen) [Sarah] can probably understand him better now because she's
experienced it herself.
There you go. And did you notice the colors of the polka dot dress
(with the deep pockets)? LOL
(Emma) In the restaurant scene, the expression on her face was priceless
when Paul started comparing her to the football coach.
Of course, when one of her students relates the same comparison at
the party, the lightbulb clicks on over her head. Paul's right. She's got
to tell him.
(Evelyn) The restaurant scene is a winner...Watch his eyes. There's
a hurt there.
I love this scene, but my favorite 'eye talk' comes at the end of it,
after Paul says “it'll be brilliant.”
(Emma) being a football fan is a lot like my CF obsession.
But I have an obsession for both. Paul in one of his voiceovers says,
“perhaps it's something you can't understand unless you belong.” He's talking
about football but it can be applied to ourselves, as Emma has said.
I was fast forwarding through "Deep Blue Sea" to get to the FP Premiere.
I noticed Freddie, when he's telling Hess that he's taking the job in South
America, goes to the mantel, leans on it, hesitates, walks away, turns
and speaks to Hess. Sound familiar?
The guy has done so many quirky roles. He must have a Roladex by now
and can bring up any characteristic on call. Freddie is like Paul in many
ways: immature, rationalizes his actions in a logical manner, to him anyway.
(Emma) So they only had trouble with the American writers.
They were doing the American literature. Had it been an English lit
class, we might well have been treated to Chosser, Shakespeer, Tennison,
(Renate) how this little "Oscar" remark slipped in into the kitchen
It wouldn't surprise me to learn that he was ad libbing (improvising)
(Arami) we might well have been treated to Chosser, Shakespeer...
Ah well, even Shakespeare couldn't spell his own name.
Re: "black and old gold"—a subtle little joke included here is that
Paul has (accidentally?) replaced Byron's "purple and gold" with the official
colours of Wolverhampton Wanderers pre-1980, and it still scans. I've never
seen "old gold" used in any other context.
(Evelyn) Freddie is like Paul in many ways: immature, rationalizes
his actions in a logical manner, to him anyway.
This is what Colin always does and does so well. Remember what he said
about the first proposal scene in P&P2? Something to the effect
that to Darcy the whole thing seemed natural and logical and that he (Colin)
had to understand the logic to be able to play it effectively.
In SiL also, he went on about how to Wessex a name-for-money
trade marriage was absolutely normal and this made him a normal person
for his time, not a villain.
(Mark) Re: "black and old gold"—a subtle little joke
ROTF. Only a football fan and perhaps a Byron-lover would pick up on
When Sarah asks him has he read Byron: “Yeah. 'The Assyrian came down
like the wolf on the fold, and his somethings were gleaming in...black
and old gold.' Crap.” That would get a bigger laugh in UK than in the US
Well the only laugh it got in the cinema I was in was mine. My DW stared
at me and called me a "show-off" when I explained the "joke" later. As
usual, she's not wrong;-)
(Evelyn) That would get a bigger laugh in the UK than in the US
(Mark) Well the only laugh it got in the cinema I was in was mine.
Yes, I'm not surprised it didn't work too well. Wolverhampton haven't
been a force in English football for a long time. On a slightly different
track, part of the problem in England with the film was that Arsenal, although
successful, aren't over popular.
(Evelyn) That would get a bigger laugh in UK than in the US for
Well, I always laugh and *I* haven't read Byron. There's something
about the way he uses the word 'crap.' ;-)
(Eileen)...Well, I always laugh.
The one that sets me off is: "Mortgage...wife...kid...cool..." And
On the subject of spelling, do you think this was an oversight by the
crew or a statement about Paul's lack of interest/caring about teaching?
I think for a man to take an interest in a woman's surroundings (her
apartment) says a lot about his sensitivity. I didn't find that simple.
IMHO, he doesn't approach the world intellectually but kinesthetically.
Perhaps he needs to cultivate other aspects of himself more, but his comments
often reveal a fine self-irony, which suggests enough reflection: "I've
got to vary the answers, haven't I? I can's say Arsenal every time." And
the funny comment "what are these for, then?" I took to be a typical male
comment about the uselessness of knick knacks.
his sports addiction would be a problem for me. But I still enjoy this
film as a male fantasy into the foray of love and relationships. Hornby
may not be up to snuff on relationships, but at least he dares to try to
explore them in his stories. The whole problem for me is simple: Paul and
I just don't share the same addictions!
(Judy) Did Sarah wanted to share any of it with him? She scoffed
at what was important to him.
(Karen) Did he appear to care about anything that was important
to her? But that would've been another movie.
I agree. That's why I rationalize it as a male fantasy film. We are
invited so far into Paul's reality, that a lot of effort is required to
stand back and remember how Sarah's life is being impacted.
I'm not sure that Sarah's the type to let the seed be planted on purpose,
after all she's worried about her job and she's not sure that she's going
to keep the baby
She seems quite willing to raise the baby on her own. The idea of marriage
comes from Paul. It maybe isn't all that surprising. He wants a family.
His loyalty to the Arsenal team seems to be largely driven by his hunger
to be close to his father. A family of his own would be another way to
obtain what drives him.
(Gi) This is what Colin always does and does so well...(Colin) had
to understand the logic to be able to play it effectively.
Yes, he certainly does. And it makes it that much harder to be an objective
viewer! Not only is he distracting to watch because he's so good-looking,
but he had to be talented too!
(Heide) At what point are you suggesting he's imposing on her freedom?
I'm assuming it's during his suggestion they get married but am wondering
if it might even be before.
To paraphrase my fave fic man: I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot,
or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation for my suspicion.
But I would say the moment that Sarah starts doing extra because he's not
doing enough is the moment that he's imposing on her freedom and she's
(Sadie) He wants a family
Doesn't he say somewhere that Arsenal is his family?
One of my favourite lines in FP is when Paul and Sara are looking for
a house and she says “N5’s not the only place in the world, you know” and
Paul says "Come on, Sarah, you know that’s not true."
I enjoy that scene as well. The only place to live is near the stadium
(I chose my uni to be near my team ;-D So I understand where he's coming
from. In my defence, I was only 18 and he's older).
(Mark) "black and old gold"—a subtle little joke
There are probably many more in-jokes. On one of the UK film review
shows, a critic said that Paul is teaching his team how to do an offside
trap, a play used frequently by the ever-boring Arsenal.
Of course, Sarah wouldn't have gotten the joke either, but was perhaps
expecting to hear "she walks in beauty, like the night..."
(Sadie) on the subject of spelling, do you think this was an oversight
by the crew or a statement about Paul's lack of interest/caring about teaching?
As Renate pointed out, the Faulkener had been erased and rewritten
on the board, but the Hemmingway shows. The real issue is that those
photographs were part of the official presskit. You would think somebody
would've noticed them and pulled them out because it would be embarrassing.
(Sadie) but his comments often reveal a fine self-irony, which suggests
Robert's Mother: He's always going on about you...
Paul knows very well why the kids like him.
Paul: Yeah, well. It's my infectious enthusiasm for Steinbeck's prose
style, probably. Either that or something else.
Very cute and irreverent quote from an Irish paper:
Instead, it's about a man, his woman and his football team
and she doesn't know where she comes in the pecking order. Silly woman,
she comes after the 11 players, the four subs, the manager, the directors,
the coach, the hot-dog seller, the editor of the match day programme, the
other fans and the wee lad who runs out as the club mascot.
Paul is not just a fan; he has an obsession. There's a vast difference
between the two IMO.