Excerpts From An Interview with Jeff Lipsky
Director of "Flannel Pajamas"
January 18, 2007; 3:30 p.m.
Outlook: Was this designed to be the sort of prototypical, post-modern, 21st-century relationship?
JL: Actually, I think of it more as the kind of relationship at the beginning of the 20th century, where really, the focus is simply on the two of them. They meet in the company of other friends, and then it's about how their relationship develops, honestly and openly and imperfectly. In a way, it's kind of timeless.
Outlook: Many good churchgoing people are offended by movies with a lot of violence, sex, nudity, and language, so I'm afraid many will avoid this one (with its R rating).
JL: Well, there's no violence here. As for the language, I think it's really important that I wrote this script about two people becoming intimate with one another where there's an incredible amount of dialogue, but no cursing or swearing. As a writer, I just get so disappointed in the overuse of slang, because it just seems lazy to me. The (English) language is just so much richer and deeper and more nuanced than that, without having to resort to overused substitute words.
Outlook: I believe that many in my constituency will appreciate that. As for the nudity, I noticed that as the relationship between them cooled, they clothed themselves more. They even started wearing more clothes to bed.
JL: Yes, and that was quite intentional, representing the increasing emotional distance between them. I wanted this to be real, and to express the excitement and exhilaration and trepidation of a new relationship, and I think the actors did a great job of capturing that in the filming.
Outlook: She was shy and self-conscious at first, then became quite comfortable with her nudity in front of him, but later covered up more, like Adam and Eve, when they realized they were naked and were ashamed.
JL: Yes, and one of them says to the other that sexuality is a gift from God! I think of them as more like Romeo and Juliet, especially with the dynamics of the involvement of their families.
Outlook: His brother staying with them for a while put a real strain on their relationship.
JL: Yes, but his brother showed how much he really cared with that heartfelt toast at the wedding reception. All those old sibling rivalry dynamics are overshadowed by his genuine affection, right there in front of everybody.
Outlook: Despite the brother's obvious struggles within himself?
JL: Suicide affects so many families, and I thought it was yet another point of identification here, with these characters, without being tragic or pitiable. They were just real.
Outlook: My wife and I had some discussion after seeing this movie, about the dynamics surrounding the miscarriage.
JL: So many first pregnancies end in miscarriage, and so many couples have to deal with this kind of early heartbreak, which can really cause a lot of stress. And I left it intentionally unclear as to whether or not she quit taking the pill, or just forgot once or twice, or changed the schedule of when she took them, which can also alter their affect.
Outlook: Yes, it was my perspective that she had deceived him, by first agreeing to delay getting pregnant, and the next thing he knows she's having a miscarriage. But my wife says that he stood by her at the hospital. I said that it may have been the precipitant for the demise of their relationship, and she said that at least he was there for her.
JL: I love that conversation! And that's the kind of thing I want to happen after people watch my films. Not "Where do you want to go eat?" but instead, "What did you think of that?"
Outlook: If I may say so, as a preacher, I hope for the same thing from my sermons.
JL: Yes! And I even prefer someone to come up to me and say, "You know, I really didn't think I liked your movie, but it's a week later, and I'm still thinking about it."
Outlook: Well, I saw it several weeks ago, and there are still some scenes that stick out in my mind.
JL: That's what I like to hear.
Outlook: Especially at the last, when he's thinking about her, imagining her there, and then she isn't there. That felt like the way people grieve.
JL: But you could also look on that sequence as a positive one, where he's making his peace with what happened, and he's OK with it, and he's ready to move on with his life, including reconciling with his Dad.
Outlook: Thank you so much for your time.
JL: My pleasure.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Terrell, Texas