|Kat Wrote:Right, but what was the point of the relationships? Why did Lora have to be in a relationship with Alan? Why couldn't her character be meaningful just as another coworker?|
A, because adding in the romantic angle gave the movie something more to do than just be a sterile computer story, and B, because the backstory between the characters serves to humanize them, fleshing them out as characters who feel like they have lives before and after the hour or two we see them on screen. It especially serves Lora's character well, and I'll explain why.
First off, realize that she's a professional, almost certainly doctorate level research scientist in an era where that's still mostly unheard of. Really, where is she going to look for partners? Can you really see her making it in the club scene of the early 1980s, filled as it surely must be with leftover lounge lizards who haven't quite accepted that the disco daze are over? It's pretty certain that after the half-dozenth Leisure Suit Larry clone awkwardly trying to hit on her, she'd leave that behind in disgust. So where does she turn to find people that will not only respect her for her mind, but actually have the first clue what she's talking about when she discusses her work and interests?
At ENCOM, of course. A place where, as an oh-so-rare female geek, she's practically a goddess and can pick and choose at will. She goes first for the charming Kevin Flynn, but after he loses his job she comes to see him as too immature for her. So she hooks up with his best friend instead, the less charismatic but much more stable Alan Bradley. She sees Flynn as wasting his time "lounging around" above the arcade, wasting his talents and refusing to grow up. She wants, and finds, someone more serious and mature and she finds that in Alan, giving up her youthful attraction for the badboy to settle into a more stable and adult relationship.
Then, in the course of the story, she finds out that Kevin was robbed of his position unjustly and has been spending his time, not partying it up as she thought, but working desperately to try to right that wrong and reclaim what is his. She realizes she has misjudged him, and feeling guilty for having dumped him decides to make up for it by helping him out on his quest. She easily talks Alan into it because let's face it, she's his geek goddess and he's going to do whatever it takes to please her. When she dangles the keys and says "let's go, boys", he obeys. Lora is the one with the power between the three of them, it's her decision that greenlights the plan. When she says it's a go, Alan goes from stonewalling to on board almost as fast as if she'd cracked a whip.
All this in what, twenty minutes? Interspersed with other scenes, even? That short time of character exposition tells us huge amounts about the characters and makes them breathe. They feel like real people, and it's a brilliantly understated and effective bit of character work that is woefully underrated.