EXTREME stream of consciousness:
thrust, pain, 9 – 11, wander, wonder, fall and falling, alone to wander, never swing, sell, consume, buy, drink, speak! scream, play, sell, cry, dust, play, spell, chart, graph, organize, know, hear, listen, speak, spell, sell, know, known, No.
I stop in NYC on a busy street and hear a buzz of voices, traffic, horns, businesses, etc. There is no real quiet in the city. It’s the price you pay for city life. Some love it.
The blunt contrast is my Uncle’s farm on the prairie in Minnesota. Stop and stand there in the tall grass of that dark earthy place and stay long enough, you’ll hear the wind moving the grass, crickets, and perhaps the distant freeway.
I think this film is about Asperger’s syndrome. It could have coincided with any tragedy in a boy’s life, but in this case, 9 – 11 in New York offers setting, a mere marker on a map to anchor the boy’s quest for illumination.
I’m shocked that the boy, Thomas Horn, (winner of the 2012 Kids Week on Jeopardy) wasn’t recognized by the academy for this genius performance. He shows the inner struggle perfectly – the irony of the why in grief. Responses to grief are as unique in execution as speech: individualistic in dialects, accents, cultural biases, colloquial norms. We do not have answers for questions like why people die and why it hurts. We cannot explain it to adults, let alone children. We are all learning how to help one another. And young Oskar Schell, despite the unique way that he sees the world, carrying his tambourine into the living rooms of strangers, will not find answers either.
This film plays like a hymn. Four or five verses with a similar melody, without choruses to break up the consistency. It perhaps needed a chorus or two. The consistency of tension and grief in this film is exhausting. I suppose it enforces a new empathy for a syndrome that requires monotony, routine, pattern, and sameness. I do love the scenes with Max von Sydow. He is precious, beloved.
My favorite verse in this hymn is a scene that sums up the whole film. The boy visits Viola Davis, asks for iced coffee, and throws out elephant facts as she cries. He takes her picture even after she says no.
I love parallel moments in film, and when he finally breaks and asks a stranger for forgiveness, I am broken too. This film does have the power to move people, to help us see strangers as people of stories and loss and hope, like us. It helps us relate to those we cannot hope to understand. It give us hope to see and swing and laugh and live another day.