Sunday, October 30, 2011

Restless vs Time to Leave: When the Inevitable is Here

Today I went to the movies to see Restless (2011). I don't know why I chose it: maybe because I am a big sucker for drama or because I have some morbid fascination for facing the imminent and frightening. The review caught my attention, and I did have a Sunday afternoon to spare all on myself. All I knew before the movie started is that it was a story of two young people meeting each other by chance at a memorial service, one who had lost his parents in a car accident and the other who is in the terminal stage of cancer. I sort of knew what it was going to be about and what it would end with (well, how many happy endings can you think of when someone has terminal cancer?), and yet I went and I did not regret it in the least.

Enoch and Annabel (those are the names of the two protagonists) tread the dangerous grounds of facing death in its many facets, each having a personal account with it. They may capture the fascination of the audience with their bravery at looking death in the face, but as we watch on we get deep enough under their skins and into their hearts to see that no matter how well-prepared you are, leaving this world is never an easy task. It is even more difficult when you see someone else go. Someone you love.

When Annabel gets her sentence of three more months, Enoch says that in three months one can do whatever: learn French, master the xylophone, - three months is a lot of time. Funny how time becomes important only when we put limits on it. This leaves an ambivalent feeling: proximity of death may be depressing but realizing that you have all the time in the world to do what you really want to until you die is a call for action: Focus! Choose your priorities! Live your life while you can!

At some point, Enoch wonders what his wingspan is. I know this will sound cheesy now, but your wingspan is just how far you can see. Unfortunately, we only begin to realize that when it is too late. That is why we spend our lives doing things we do not truly love, finding ourselves in the wrong jobs and with the wrong people. Only when we get the grey in our hair, do we start saying phrases starting with "I wish I were...".

Restless reminded me of another movie: Le Temps Qui Reste by Francois Ozon (Time to Leave, 2005).

A similar situation of slow and sure dying soon because of a terminal disease is approached from a different stance: I will alienate the whole world so that nobody sees my suffering and will not miss me when I am gone. Some will call it egoistic, selfish and cruel, others will marvel at the effort of self-sacrifice and making peace with oneself, resorting to dying in solitude. The main character is taking the period of time granted to him by his disease not as an opportunity to do something more, try something new, something that he has not tried before, but to recluse himself inside his own soul and meet death alone as an outcast.

Two movies: same endings, same diagnoses, different approaches. Both leave us with some questions to think about and find our own answers. I am not asking for resolutions, those never work. Actually, I am not asking for anything: just look around and see whether you will be looking at what you doing now as worthwhile from the perspective of 20-30 years from now. Maybe that will be the answer.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails