Stormy days in Sweet Home Alabama…

When Movie Movie Blog Blog‘s announcement of the April Showers Blogathon came up, I naturally thought of all the great romantic rain scenes (because there’s something about that ultimate declaration of love just as the rain starts coming down) and to mind came Sweet Home Alabama (2002). But then I read the announcement again. Hmm, not simply any scene but one that is important to the plot. Oooh, yes, my selection still holds. Yaay. Why?

(The next bit may spoil things for you, so, don’t carry on reading if you plan to watch this one for the first time).

Here goes…

The opening scene is of two children, Jake and Melanie, running on the beach during a lightning storm. They are looking for the glass formations caused by lightning striking the sand and…they end up sharing a kiss. At this point Melanie asks Jake why he wants to be married to her to which he replies “So I can kiss you anytime I want” and lightning strikes them.  A present-day Melanie (Reese Witherspoon) is awoken from this flashback dream. We soon find out that she is a successful fashion designer and in a relationship with New York Mayor’s son, Andrew (Patrick Dempsey). When he proposes to her (and she accepts), she heads off to Alabama to tell her parents in person. However, the real reason she goes there alone is to finalise the divorce from her estranged husband…Jake (Josh Lucas). While in her hometown, she is reminded of her past and who she really is. Anyway…back to the rain…

The rain serves more than just a romantic backdrop. Firstly, we learn that Jake had, in fact, followed Melanie to New York shortly after they split up and at which point had realised that he needed to make something of himself before he could win her back. The sand formations, and subsequently a range of exclusive glassware, are his means of “conquering the world”. This would never have been possible without the rain, more specifically the lightning.

Secondly, it serves an important role at Melanie and Andrew‘s wedding. Normally, you’d expect sunny skies at such a special day, however, in this case, the rain brings the smiles. As soon as Melanie decides not to marry Andrew (I did warn you about spoilers), the heavens burst open. Like a huge sigh of relief (even if a little cliché). A washing away of the past and secrets to bring a new, fresh beginning. But, it also brings the story back to the two children we met in the opening scene, now adults, still in love: while Jake is gathering his glass formations (to avoid the wedding) and Melanie comes to the beach to collect her husband, there isn’t just lightning as in the opening but also rain. To me, a symbol that finally, he has made something of himself and she’s being herself. The storm almost shows their stormy relationship stage is over and they can move forward together. It is now his chance to ask her why she wants to be married to him to which she gives the same line he gave her as a child: “So I can kiss you anytime I want”

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20 comments

  1. I love that scene on the beach with the lightning.

    This is a wonderful film, and your review makes me want to see it again. Now that I think about it, I can’t think of one Reese Witherspoon performance that I didn’t enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A perfect selection for the blogathon. Romantic revelations in the rain always sets the spine a-tingling; and you know I’m a sucker for a New York set rom-com with a character called Melanie.
    Seventy years ago, it would have been Katherine Hepburn returning to Alabama to get a divorce from James Stewart’s farm boy, while debonair Cary Grant waited patiently in New York City. Gone are those days, and from the dust of the past Reese Witherspoon emerged. Sweet Home Alabama has a cute story to tell, and it treats us to two different versions of the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic. What more could anyone ask for?

    Liked by 1 person

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