Film Talk · Personal

Films that hit closer to home than expected

Cinema is a wonderful form of escapism. My favourite kind, come to think of it. Regardless of genre there’s something magic about losing yourself for a couple of hours, putting aside any cares and worries and just immersing yourself into somebody else’s story and vision for a little while. Particularly stepping into a cinema screen, turning your phone off for a couple of hours and having nothing to worry about aside from watching a screen. It can do wonders for your mood.

Some films stay with you though. Whether because of how joyous they made you feel, or how they troubled you. There’s something powerful about a film that you continue to think about for days afterwards. I thought about Sicario regularly for a few days after watching it, so big was its impact on me. Within a couple of days of watching, I caught up on Cartel Land, a perfect companion piece and spent a few more days dwelling on that.

I’ll admit that I love nothing more than a film that has my brain thinking afterwards. Those films get a lot of respect from me for their staying power.

Then there are the films that hit you like Rocky Balboa’s delivered a sucker punch straight to your face. The movies that you don’t expect to feel connected to, yet they get you; hook, line and sinker.

Up In The Air (2009)

I’ve spoken, and written, about this film in great detail previously, though not on here. If you’ve not seen it I employ you to, immediately. Though I’d recommend watching a trailer first. If like me, you do, you’ll expect a light romantic comedy (I hadn’t read the book prior to seeing this). Probably lots of fluff. I only watched it during an insomniac period at university where I hoovered up films like crumbs to stop my mind wandering into crazy thoughts. I never, ever expected that it would speak to me the way that it did and that it would become one of my all time favourite films.

The trailer did this film an injustice and I often wonder if director, Jason Reitman, was disappointed with its portrayal in that sense. What it actually is, is much more complex. Yes, there’s a romantic and a comedy element but it’s also a film about the economic state of America. About the dissolution of the American Dream. About family, about commitment, about how humans tick.

I don’t see a lot of myself in George Clooney’s Ryan Bingham, but I do recognise elements of myself. He’s disconnected from a traditional sense of home, feeling more at ease with the constant travelling and moving that his work requires. He’s a man who doesn’t think he’s looking for commitment but is bowled over when he starts to see Vera Farmiga’s Alex. She’s everything he didn’t know he needed. Farmiga is brilliant here, she’s smart and sexy and hell, I fell for her too. Again, she possessed a lot of qualities I wanted to find in myself. Add in Anna Kendrick’s Natalie and you have a fabulous lead trio who all fight for the title of best performer.

My life has changed a lot since I first viewed this, but I continue to watch it a couple of times a year and it more than holds its place in my all time favourites. The way it spoke to me about jobs, about relationships and about modern life…yeah, I associated with it way more than I probably should have.

Brooklyn

A film that blew me away when I finally sat down and had a chance to catch up on it earlier this year. It certainly lived up to the tearjerker element I’d be warned of and passed on the same warning to my friends and family.

Saoirse Ronan makes a wonderful lead, she’s smart and caring and you want her to be ok. As somebody who has lived away from home for nine years, it’s understandable why I related to aspects of this. Ok, so I only relocated within the same country, not across the world and not via a boat, but I was young when I moved away to university and not much older when I decided to stay afterwards. Family are the most important thing in my life. I’ve not got a huge one but we’ve always been close and like Ronan’s Eilis, it’s tough leaving behind everything you know.

Ok so Brooklyn is set in the days before mobile phones and the internet, but the sentiments and the feelings of being homesick and lonely resonate regardless. They’re timeless parts of growing up and forming your own life. There’s some heart-breaking moments where Eilis hears of terrible news back home and is almost trapped, unable to get back in time to resolve any of it, riddled with guilt for it too. She’s torn between the life she’s made for herself and the life she once knew so well. Again, my scenario isn’t quite the same, but the underlying feelings are similar.

I’m lucky, like Eilis, I met my boyfriend while living away from home and he’s got a huge, incredible family who welcomed me into their world with open arms. They stop me missing my family a little, and certainly make living in a place that took a while to feel like home easier. Similar to Eilis, I don’t get to see my parents as much as I would like, time and money aren’t always accommodating or kind. We talk a lot though, it’s the best way of coping.

Those who know me know that I’m not really a crier. Even my best friend has yet to see me cry, but Brooklyn hit me and it hit me hard. I cried towards the beginning and it occurred intermittently throughout. I’m not ashamed to say it either, it’s a beautiful film that will have you laughing, crying, smiling and generally going through every possible emotion during watching it. I can associate with her meeting the guy of her dreams and a guy who she could settle with at the wrong time too.

The Fundamentals of Caring

This is one that I watched in the last couple of weeks. It jumped out at me from Netflix as I’m a fan of Craig Roberts (please watch Submarine if you haven’t already!) and Paul Rudd and it mentioned a road trip. I’m a sucker for a road trip and I expected some kind of buddy film with an element of comedy. What I didn’t expect was to be surprised by it, and what was in it.

It’s a bittersweet film, not perfect, much like life. It doesn’t handle new territory particularly but it does handle it with care and love of its characters. I knew that Roberts’ was portraying a wheelchair bound teenager, but I didn’t realise it was representing one with muscular dystrophy. In my teen years, my Dad was diagnosed with a form of this and I think this is the first time I can recall it being portrayed on screen since that day. It stunned me a little, I, much like Rudd’s character, wish I could do more to help, or that more was known about the condition and that there were cures.

What the film does is show how people adjust to loss, whether it’s a loss of something they’ll never experience, or a person, it looks at how we carry on living and what life is about. It’s not overly sentimental, aside from a couple of moments, and it doesn’t try to make each character clear cut and put them in a box.

These are just three of the films that have reminded me exactly why I love watching films. What are your films that took you by surprise and that you felt a deep connection with?

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