Alabama Monroe: Love, Pain, and Ink

August 31, 2019
Alabama Monroe tells the love story of a charismatic couple that must face a sudden tragedy at a certain point in their lives.

Alabama Monroe tells the love story of a bluegrass-lover (the purest form of country) and a woman covered in beautiful tattoos, loving and endowed with a special, spiritual sensitivity. Two polar opposites that fall in love at first sight. Two characters that connect with their viewers as they experience the drama of illness and loss.

Alabama Monroe tells the story of a charismatic and beautiful couple that must face a sudden tragedy at a certain point in their lives: their daughter’s serious illness. It’s an experience that can break anybody and that, in some way, causes the flame of their love to gradually disappear.

In this film, the best way to tell the story is through music and time jumps. This way, the viewer understands the reason for the feelings the characters experience.

The love, music, and aesthetic in Alabama Monroe

Elise and Didier meet in the former’s tattoo studio. The chemistry between them is unique. However, this isn’t the first scene of the film. The film plays around with time jumps to show us the contrast between the romance at the beginning with the subsequent experience of their daughter’s illness.

The music and aesthetics of Alabama Monroe are central to the development of the story that takes place in Ghent, Belgium. Didier is a bluegrass lover, a type of country produced only with acoustic instruments and voice. All the music in the film is performed by his group, brilliantly capturing the spirit of American bluegrass music.

The protagonists singing in Alabama Monroe.

Elise is a woman who expresses her passion for art through her tattoos and her work as a tattoo artist. From the beginning, she seems to be a sensitive, passionate, and loving person. Attracted to Didier’s personality and charm, she falls into the arms of her partner. Together, they begin to sing for the group, composing one of the most charming soundtracks in the history of cinema.

Tattoos and music merge together from the beginning in this passionate story. Sex scenes, despair, and tenderness make their appearance throughout the film. They serve as a metaphor for how the passions of both characters are fused to narrate the story of a fresh, passionate, and courageous love in a visual and auditory way.

Alabama Monroe: Passion collapses in the face of drama

The metaphor of love and how life events can change its course are reflected in several moments in the film with its continuous flashbacks and flashforwards.

Elise is a dreamer, but also radical in her decision-making. She believes that any story can be covered up or transformed, something similar to what happens when you no longer like a tattoo. She’s also open to imagining and dreaming. She’s spiritual and believes that any form of grieving is valid if it consoles you, even if it’s not entirely rational.

In contrast, Didier is seemingly more pragmatic, but at the same time more reluctant to end things without a reason. He insists on fighting and facing everything that hinders his life or that of his loved ones, such as the religious fanaticism that permeates some sectors of his home country, the United States.

His way of mourning is more rational and belligerent, but the film conveys that being more realistic isn’t better, since it strips the person of any search for relief even in their imagination. Thus, Alabama Monroe reflects two ways of understanding the events of a couple’s life, such as an unwanted pregnancy, mourning the loss of a daughter, and coping with a breakup.

What Alabama Monroe can teach us

The film shows that there’s no single way to understand what happens to us. Everything depends on the nuances and the circumstances. Although Elise is brave in some of her decisions, in others her eagerness to erase and forget keeps her from continuing fighting.

On the other hand, Didier suffers due yo his obstinacy and skepticism. Nevertheless, he’s brave when facing his loss, mourning with his partner without fleeing. The film doesn’t explicitly express what’s better and what’s worse for the relationship.

“I always knew. That it was too good to be true. That it couldn’t last. That life isn’t like that, life isn’t generous. You mustn’t love someone. You mustn’t become attached to someone. Life begrudges you that. It takes everything away from you and it laughs in your face. It betrays you.”

Alabama Monroe

The protagonists outdoors.

What this story shows is that not everything can be overcome with love when it’s interspersed with pain. There are events that mark a person’s life and can ruin a perfect love story. As Elise says, life can be capricious and snatch everything you have. Sometimes, it plays with you without you even expecting it. And, sometimes, this is much more than a loving couple can cope with.

The wonderful thing about this movie is, without a doubt, the honesty it conveys. Its message is that love is wonderful and you must enjoy it to the fullest when you feel it. But it’s not always possible to do that when something very painful happens.