Apology in the Movies: Pitch Perfect (2012)

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Pitch Perfect is a 2012 American musical comedy featuring a large ensemble cast of college students who belong to competing a cappella singing groups as they compete with other groups to win a championship.

Pitch Perfect stars an ensmable cast

Pitch Perfect stars a large cast featuring Anna Kendrick . 

 

The competition between the groups is mirrored by competition between two strong-willed women on the Barden College Barden Bellas singing group.

Freshman Beca Mitchell (Anna Kendrick) butts heads with an uptight and controlling group leader Aubrey  Posen (Anna Camp  ).  Rehearsals are tense as the two women each try to dominate the other.  Aubrey generally wins these battles, even though she loses the war. Her strategies, brittle personality, and selection of material do not serve the group well.

Finally, at the semi-finals, Becca makes a unilateral decision during the performance to interject La Roux’s “Bulletproof” as an impromptu backup to Aubrey’s traditional arrangement. The members are caught by surprise but quickly regroup and finish up with a performance that pleases the audience.  The judges do not agree. In the ensuring confrontation, Aubrey forces Beca out.

 

Even though they lost, the Barden Bellas are offered a slot at the Nationals. Beca realizes how much she needs the Bellas and approaches Aubrey and the group to offer a very classy apology:

I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. What I did was a really dick move and I shouldn’t have changed the set without asking you guys and I definitely shouldn’t have left. I let you guys down and I’m really sorry. And, Aubrey, if you would have me, I want back in.

This is a very effective apology: direct, non-defensive, and personal. Beca identifies what she is apologizing for, acknowledges the pain she has caused, and respects Aubrey, the leader of the Bellas, by legitimizing her authority.

All works out.  At the National competition, the Bellas sing a piece arranged by Beca, and win. The apology makes possible the repair of the relationship between the two women and the functioning of the entire group.

 

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