Yesterday I painted my home office. I sometimes feel as if I've been transfused with Latex paint, and that if I cut myself I'd bleed a variety of hues, I've been painting a great deal.
I think it was the color that made think of a 2001 movie that I particularly liked, although it seems many people haven't seen it. It's a slow movie, very well-written, a thinking movie. The director has a very interesting, and rather subtle eye for color. It is classified as an Indie, which generally just means it's not an action film, since it seems big studios either make action films, or movies that rely less on script, and more on bankablity. I knew I had a copy of it, so I decided to sit down and watch it. Eventually my husband, also familiar with the film, joined me and we both marveled over the lovely, understated performances by some very talented actors.
The movie is Thirteen Conversations About One Thing and if you like thoughtful movies, you'll probably like it. There is never a crescendo in it. The action never comes to a head, and it is a non-linear tale (which can drive some people a bit berserk). Clea Duvall and Alan Arkin are particularly good in it. Parts are sad, but overall the movie is hopeful. The one thing they are all supposed to be discussing is the nature of happiness, at least that's what critical reviews suggest.
I can see that, but mostly it is a quiet study in the nature of faith, that happiness is as much a choice in life as it is anything else, and that maybe, just maybe, we are miracles for other people, when we choose to be.
My husband, joining me in progress, couldn't quite remember the exact plot. Plot spoiler to follow:
(I feel silly guarding against a spoiler on an eight year old film, but some folks abhor spoilers, I don't think this one is key, but better safe, an all that):
At a key point Clea Dvuall's character is saved by the simple act of a stranger smiling at her. My husband turned to me and asked, "Who was it?" since we never see the moment. The film seems to suggest that it was Bowman, known as "Smiley" Bowman in the film. The ending suggests that it might be the least likely character throughout the film. I like to think that's exactly what the ending means. There's also something beautiful in the fact that Beatrice's life is saved because of someone else's choice, and the question of who it was isn't answered because, pretty clearly, the film is trying to suggest it might very well have been you.
I'm a smiling sort of person. Always have been. Years, and years ago, when I was twenty or so I was standing in line at a drugstore, thinking of something pleasant, awaiting my turn at the cash register and I was smiling. A woman in front of me looked at me and said, "You're very pretty." and I thanked her, and smiled more. Then she said acidicly, "You must be very lucky, or very stupid."
It took me a moment to realize she was referring to the fact that I was smiling. I remember that moment because even at twenty, I was absolutely stunned that anyone would go so far out of their way to wipe an entirely harmless smile off of anyone's face. Luckily I am what my mother always referred to as "Bloody-minded", meaning cussed, stubborn, mulish and I replied, "Neither actually." and grinned almost maniacally at her. She turned away quickly, probably thinking I was crazy. I've often wondered, how miserable must her own life have been that the sight of someone smiling set her off so.
I never forgot it. Here's the reason: That was the only time in my life someone criticized me for smiling. When you smile at someone, generally speaking, they will simply smile right back.
Maybe that's why I liked the movie so much. Not everyone in it is likable. Not everyone gets a happy-ending, and in some cases we don't even know what their ending might be. That movie was like the antidote to that long ago moment, and I've always loved it.