Tuesday, January 16, 2007

About Schmidt

Since I moved to Brussels I started doing something I didn’t use to do before: to buy movies in DVD format and watch them at home. Before, I hardly did it. I guess that it is because now I spend much more time alone and I tend to stay at home more often. I always enjoyed watching movies though and doing it at home is much more comfortable than going to a theatre under the Brussels’ rain. And much cheaper! Well, anyway, I’ve been buying many movies and watching them every time I can. Yesterday I’ve watched “Monster’s Ball”, and last week, “Along Came a Spider” and “Gattaca”. All nice movies… but tonight I’ve watched “About Schmidt”. I have to confess that I was dubious when I picked this DVD up from the shelf. I sat down tonight, and the first thing that hit me was the way that the film was shot. It is shot using rather blue and green hues, so the film is rather subdued. Secondly, the music stands out. Instead of using a typical 'boohoo' orchestra, the film uses beautiful wandering piano and marimba sounds. The characters, could easily relate to people we all know: Helen, the wife who is excited about getting to spend a new chapter of her life with her husband; Warren, the husband who obeys his wife but secretly resents it. And, then, a sudden change which causes a rethink in everything he has done up until that point. At first, this appeared to be a comedy, but it was soon revealed to be a beautifully poignant film. Throughout, it questions mortality, what you can achieve in life, and how to cope with loss, or change. This film must be watched very carefully though. If you're not paying enough attention to it, you would miss it. It's in the frames, the atmosphere, the tiny details, the situations, the acting, everything. But it's not that obvious, unless you enter that world. Simple story? Sure. Life is simple. So is great art! All in all, "About Schmidt" is a really great film. Bitter humour, all-pervading lie, the infinite sadness of loneliness and failure, sincere egoism, everyday dullness, desperate and quiet hope - this is life, and in a non-blatant, nor melodramatic manner. But you're going to weep (and smile) at the ending (I did!). I would thoroughly recommend anybody to watch this film. It will stay with you for a long time. At least, it will stay with me. Now, did anyone else notice the symbolism with the cows? First, at the retirement dinner, with his picture up next to two prize cows; then, the cattle truck being washed off near his wife's funeral; then as he's driving down the highway in a big truck just like they are; and finally at the wedding reception as the beef is being sliced while he's in obvious pain about how things have gone. I can’t get these cows off my mind and yet I can’t understand their meaning… Can someone help me?

3 Comments:

Blogger ice breaker said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:54 PM  
Blogger ice breaker said...

his retirement seems to be the occasion of his slaughter

11:54 PM  
Blogger Bolachinha said...

I saw the movie last night and I must say that it touched me in a very personal way. I was (and I still am) thinking in my father, and how life can be cruel after a long journey of hard work and dedication to family.

There was something that Warren Schmidt said that definitively will stay in my memory for the strong meaning and specially for what I want for me: “I know we're all pretty small in the big scheme of things, and I suppose the most you can hope for is to make some kind of difference, but what kind of difference have I made? What in the world is better because of me?”

Cows? Well, I think it means destiny, or better, the “fatal final” of life if we just accept resignation and give up fighting for what we believe… Cows are very passive animals which life can be resumed in one thing – to eat to die.

3:20 PM  

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