Monday, April 24, 2017


No hope, no love, no future


They have declared in all possible ways this film is a master piece, and it is just my luck: it is. They have declared the main actor to be best actor in I don’t know how many places, at least three times, and it is just my luck: he is a very good actor. Best I don’t know, but very good that’s sure. And yet that’s not enough bad luck since even the most important part of this film is at least twice said to be the best original scenario. Only twice, true enough. Hooray! So here I can be the third guy of the triad. The subject of this film is fascinating. Some will say it is banal, and it is. It happens all the time and every day, and yet it is mesmerizing because it is a subject so few people would ever speak of, deal with, make a film from.

The main character, a janitor or Jack of all trades, is living alone in a monastic room and has the reputation to be untalkative and even cool if not cold with the customers. A couple of flashbacks later, we know one night, his wife sick in the basement and his children sleeping in the bedrooms upstairs, he starts a fire in the living room chimney, forgets to put the screen in front of the fire, goes to the store for some shopping twenty minutes away, more or less a mile away, and on his way back he finds out his house has been burnt down to the ground, his children are dead, his wife is taken to the hospital and he is alone. The police will classify the story as a sheer accident in no way criminal, at worst some negligence and still in no way criminal. He will try to kill himself at the police station with the gun of one officer. Of course he will fail. And he will have to let the show go on.

He is surviving in a ghostlike life, feeling rejected and becoming violent in numerous occasions when he feels slightly menaced. He has not been able to bring closure to his mind, to his life, and he lives in the absolute self-rejection, self-loathing of someone who considers he is responsible for the death of his children, the estrangement of his wife and the unhappiness of so many people, maybe of the whole world around him. He is unable to just make some small talk with anyone, particularly women, even his ex-wife when by accident he is confronted to her and the newborn child of her new life.

Imagine then the worst possible event that can strike him down a second time, even lower and deeper than the first time. His brother who has some degenerating disease dies, more or less as planned, and leaves a sixteen-year old son behind, and a will in which he makes his brother Lee the guardian of his son up to the age of twenty-one. Lee is tortured by the idea, fascinated by the abyss he may fall into if he accepts. He actually tries to cope with the idea and moves to Manchester by the Sea, where he had spent most of his life, to take care of his nephew in his brother’s house. But little by little he finds out it is an ordeal and he finally will give it up. Luckily there is always a better solution than just a foster family.

The nephew is just as embarrassed as the uncle, Patrick as much as Lee, because Patrick has a closure problem too because he does not seem to be able to really let his father go, though his behavior is more or less that of a teenage American boy. The young Patrick puts too much on his plate: the hockey team, a music band, two girlfriends, probably the necessity to think of his graduation in two years and college after that. Yet he was living alone with his father since he did not have a mother any more: she was an alcoholic and moved away. But now she no longer is an alcoholic – but is she not really? – he cannot cope with her and her new partner, both locked up in some deep and austere Christianity and the new partner deciding he had to be the necessary and unavoidable go-between for the son and the mother. The son could not have any direct relation with her. She cannot come to closure either and the son, Patrick, is lost in that inconsistent life that has no real rock to which he could tie himself.

Strangely enough the uncle Lee and the nephew Patrick, both unable to come to closure in their bereavements, find some contact somewhere in that zombie life. Yet Lee cannot face that teenager, that child that intensifies his loss and his impossible acceptation that life is lethal since life leads to death in all cases possible. Bereaved he is, bereaved he will always be. So he cannot take the responsibility of causing another drama, another death, even though he loves Patrick and he has found out Patrick may be in the process of falling in love with him. If he authorized this to happen he would lead that child to his death. And yet in Boston where he has found a job, he is looking for an apartment with an extra room in case his nephew wanted to visit him and spend the night, which Patrick more or less declares improbable, though we know he is attached to his uncle enough to want to visit him and sleep over at his place.

It is amazing how in our male dominated societies two males, no matter what ages they are, cannot establish an emotional and friendly relationship otherwise than with fights or violent sports. There is something wrong on this planet. Some say it is the animal in males that makes them compete and fight, and that means nothing has changed for humans and they are just as bad as orangutans, or elks and reindeers. That’s sad and this film is bleak on the subject. We are living with our losses forever and we can never really get over them. That sure is pessimistic.


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