3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Been around this block, several times over
- Published on Amazon.com
The older one gets, the more one muses over the nature of life. Perhaps it is because one wants to know whether one is making best use of how little of it one gets to have, or whether one is just wasting it. For me, this movie went to the heart of this matter. It touches upon the way most of life really is-- i.e., we hang around unreflectively and simply go through it as if we have all the time in the world. We don't, of course, but living on the end of that skewer (that is, perpetual consciousness of the scarce commodity we are constantly wasting) would only drown us in a neurotically oceanic existential anxiety. So we employ defensive unawareness to get through those ever so many moments in life that just happen.
We can't make much sense of the vast majority of life's moments, any more that one can give a grand coherent singular sense to any of Brueghel's cast-of-thousands paintings of peasant scenes. Things just happen in these paintings, just as they do in so much of real everyday life. And these things tend to be only happenstancially connected to each other (often only by the fact that they happen to appear in the same picture), in life as in the paintings.
In this movie, a Canadian woman of limited means spends what must have been for her a small fortune to cross the ocean and come to see an ill cousin-- who is actually in a final and irreversible comma. Lonely and lost, she meets an equally lonely and lost man her age who happens to have for no real reason fallen into a job as a museum guard-- which for equally unexplainable reasons happens to suit him quite well (or suits him well enough to permit him the energy to be a kindly and generous individual to a stranger). They figuratively bump into each other and, as if in a rebound, seem to fall away from each other. But for some no special reason they choose to crawl back in each other's . . . slowly so as not to scare the other person or themselves. Carefully they pick themselves up to a standing position, so to speak, to where they come face to face in increasingly more personally intimate conversation.
But in a very non-Hollywood manner, there are no ulterior motives at play here. Nobody seems to be horny and on the prowl. Each responds to the other's kindness and thoughtfulness with his or her own kindness and thoughtfulness. He starts out by giving her directions to the strange city in which she is finding herself, and ends up accompanying her to where she can go to enjoy the town she is in. The town that started out as a place where she would complete chores now becomes a place she can enjoy with no agenda. Pretty soon, they are enjoying it together, in a real touristy fashion! In the process, they pierce each other's solitude and loneliness here and there, but throughout the film the retain their separateness. No grand affair ever erupts here!!! Raised on Hollywood plot lines, I kept waiting for the big moment when they would "make it" into each other's arms and life.
In the background, running like a spine to the whole story, the ill cousin that brought them together would never come out of her coma and to life despite little hints of hopefulness ("The doctor said that at least she didn't get any worse). Finally the cousin-- the supposed reason for the Canadian woman's coming to Europe-- simply dies. This is followed by a scene of what appears to be our couple enjoying each other's company in a bar one last time, and the film ends with the museum (that repository of "things"), going/continuing on and on-- even after that relationship we saw ever so slowly building up seems to be out of the picture.
I might add that the film confronts us not only with the prosaic, but with the contrast between the prosaic and the even more prosaic nature of life. That is to say, images flash between the museum and its seemingly high falutin art objects and a flea market on the street selling ever so low falutin everyday object (some seemingly just junk). One is left with a sense that either high or low falutin, life is transitory and follows (or perhaps I should say, stumble through) its own happenstancial course regardless of what noble meanings or Hollywood-like ulterior motives we might wish to ascribe to it.
If you check out some of my other reviews, you will notice that I am somewhat given to such intricate, Warburgian-type, high-culture interpretations of movies, because I believe film is fundamentally that elevated (and elevating) a degree of an art form. In its strange form of story telling, film goes to the core of our deepest fears and concerns. Its light illuminates the dark corners of the mind we might otherwise be too afraid to explore. This movie is well within this tradition, and it conveys its "sense" (as opposed to "message") of the transitory and relative meaning of things very well. It requires a practiced patience to get through it, which academic high culture training helps one acquire, but which its appreciation does not absolutely necessitate. I, too, love action movies-- having seen this movie after watching a Borne Identity film. But this movie is R-E-A-L-L-Y SOMETHING SPECIAL !!!!!!!!