For the past four years, my best friends from home and I have been putting money into a bank account to save up for our big birthday holiday together. Two weeks ago, we got back from Costa Rica.
On the flight to San Jose I watched The Kindergarten Teacher, Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Juliet, Naked. I wasn’t that phased by the choices but loved the acting and the concept of the latter movie; I appreciated what it was trying to say. I think I’m also a big sucker for Rose Byrne and Chris O’Dowd. I got into Derry Girls too. It was like a much-needed female version of The Inbetweeners. I didn’t stop laughing at the witty one-liners. Friends also kept me company on this flight because, you know, standard. While a perfectly-timed chest infection kept me up, some comforting, familiar faces stopped me from going a little bit insane. My actual friends, meanwhile, indulged in Crazy Rich Asians and Green Book – leaving them with a warm, fuzzy feeling that no matter the sweeping gestures, big parades and massive idiots out there, it’s all about the smaller, more intimate connections with the people we love.
I started the holiday with just one other – my best friend Bob. We took advantage of a full two weeks – something I haven’t done, well, ever. Even when a few of us jetted off to America for a big trip a couple of years ago, we stayed there little over a week. (Much to my dismay). And I’m so glad our Costa Rican trip started this way. Friends since we were diddy, it gave us some quality time to reflect on the recent weeks and set the world to rights. Not one to get all mushy or holistic, I had some of my best times here – drinking smoothies, questioning everything about life together and smiling up at a gecko while I laid on my back in a yoga studio overlooking the beach. What a cliché.
And I absolutely loved it.
And then we joined our other lovely friends. After a hair-raising experience on a tiny internal flight back to San Jose from the coast, we met them in a beautiful house tucked away from the stressful city. (SJ – I still don’t get you – are you LA? Are you Streatham?). The property was like something from The Notebook. Just add a splash of colour and some hair-frazzling heat. Oh, and an inside that did look a bit like it was haunted. The previous owner wanted the place to look like the “holiday homes of Cape Cod”. And boy, he nailed it. All it needed was an angry dad swaying back and forth on the rocking chair outside – there you have yourself a perfect replication of American movie life.
While I can’t necessarily pin the rest of the trip to any particular movie, I will say that it was like a beautiful mash-up of Bridesmaids, American Pie, The Beach, and Jurassic Park. Stay with me. Mixed with elements of A Good Year and the accents of the Home & Away cast. We visited beaches, conquered jungles, cooked, hired chefs, ate at wonderful restaurants, enjoyed the views, surfed, sunbathed, barbequed, crashed cars (we’re all fine), sang our little hearts out, exercised, hiked and fought off (zero) sharks. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t all perfect. I cried when I got caught in a wave – I thought I was a goner. Group holidays can mean it takes an hour to leave the house. People are all on different life levels though you assume you’re the same simply because you’ve come through school together. We talked a lot about mental health, and yet we completely perpetrated the misconception that “life is perfect” through Instagram-spamming (myself included).
What it did do though was reinforce and strengthen relationships, ignite my love for the brilliant Netflix show that is Sex Education (applying after-sun is a great time to get some catch up sessions in), show us how it must be to live like John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, reaffirm that I’ve actually got strong opinions in spite of the acting world trying to stifle them, prove that self-tapes can be done in the middle of a tropical storm and that we will always, always rally for each other.
On the way home I watched Instant Family, A Private War and the remains of Sex Education on my iPad. I was utterly surprised and touched by Instant Family starring my fave girl, Rose Byrne, again and Mark Wahlberg. What I thought would be just another silly, slightly hollow studio movie actually packed a lot of punch, heart and enlightening facts about the fostering system. Hats off to the writer and director – I think you did a brilliant job and I was well and truly balling my eyes out by the end. And thanks to my friends who recommended it. It’s times like this a film tip goes far. Otherwise I’d have shoved this to the back of the queue – never giving it the light of day. I fell asleep three-quarters of the way through A Private War, the brilliant film about Marie Colvin – NOT because it wasn’t entertaining enough but….because it was a night flight. Rosamund Pike was, as expected, nothing short of wonderful. And I’m chomping at the bit to finish the rest soon.
This week, be sure to catch up on:
The Victim (BBC One)
Fleabag Series 2 (BBC Three)
Derry Girls Series 2 (Channel 4)
The Widow (ITV)
Sex Education (Netflix)