I haven't done a Movie RX for a while and that is not because there have been a dearth of movies to recommend, the fact is that I am sorely remiss in posting here and for that I apologize. Actually, there are some really great movies out that deal with grief, and feelings in general, in some outstanding and unusal ways. To make up for my slacking I am going to recommend three films today.
First and foremost, if you haven't seen, Pixar's brilliant new film, Inside Out, you must immediately stop reading this blog and get to your local movie-plex. This film may become one of my most prescribed movies ever. It is the best movie for making a clear, cogent and clever argument for the indisputable importance of sadness. The only problem with this movie is that it didn't come out before I wrote The Next Happy, and that is a problem only because I would have loved to have this movie to recommend to readers who are going through grief. It makes the point so brilliantly that all feelings are important, not just the happy ones. While seemingly this is a kids' movie---it also isn't. The messages of this seemingly fun movie are pretty sophisticated and not exactly easily accessible for kiddos. There are heavy, serious, and life altering messages in this film. Inside Out makes the very important psychological point that if you lose sadness you lose joy too and that sadness serves an important and healing purpose, for that reason alone I wish everyone had to see this movie.
Now the next two films you may or may not want to see, but both of them deal with grief and that is why I am so excited about them(Yes, I know that may seem weird). A Little Chaos is a film intended for those of us who love Jane Austen, Downtown Abbey and France. It is a film about a woman who is hired to help design the gardens of Versailles. Sabine de Barra, the heroine, played by Kate Winslett, ( spoiler alert!), lost her husband and daughter in an accident and she has some pretty significant Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. While I personally enjoyed the film a lot, I am not sure everyone would( you have to like Versailles, period pieces, maybe gardening, and Alan Rickman to get full enjoyment). The part of the film that perked my psychotherapist ears up particularly was King Louis XIV's refusal to allow anyone to speak about death at court. There was a lovely scene where Sabine comes to court for the first time. She enters a chamber where there are only women and somehow the other women can see her grief, they start to ask questions and it comes out about the loss of her husband and daughter. The women share their grief with Sabine, their own stories of loss, it is a sort of secret grief support group that happened in the Louvre. The women found away to find space for feelings and stories that have been forbidden and silenced, they have found a way to not feel alone in their experience. It was a gorgeous scene, to my mind, because it illustrates the point that we absolutely need a place to share our grief and the danger of keeping our sadness, grief and loss locked up and forbidden space. When we don't share ---we feel horribly alone in our pain and even stuck in it. A Little Chaos gets four stars from me for elucidating the value of sharing grief with others. Beyond that, I was a little unconvinced by the love story, however the fact that it was in France made up for the lack of chemistry between Sabine and André Le Nôtre, the chief landscaper of Versailles. Actually I could just watch four hours of videos of Versailles and I would probably give it four stars, non-francophiles might be harder critics.
Trainwreck is my third Movie Rx for today. Let me admit to you that I am not a gal who enjoys super crass humor. To say that Bridesmaids was not my cup of tea is to be so understated that it is like calling fuchsia "baby pink" or habenaros a "tad spicy". I just really-really-really don't like to be grossed out. I don't want to have to cover my eyes when I see people behaving badly, it just isn't a fun way for me to spend two-hours. However, the director, Judd Apatow, always brings some underlying psychological sophistication to films and for some reason I felt sort of compelled to see it. I was worried it was a big, bad, and soon to be regretted mistake. I have made some mistakes and gone to Bridesmaids like movies in the past and always wished I could have snuck out, and wondered what the hell I was thinking in choosing to see Burt Wonderstone or Identity Thief. However, even as there were many scenes that required me to cover my eyes and wish that I had ear plugs so I didn't have to hear some of the cringe-worthy dialogue, I really and truly loved the film. I loved it for a lot of reasons. I loved how it openly turned some of the men/women clichés of romantic comedy around and how Apatow gives us clear insight into why Amy is a Trainwreck. And mostly, what I really loved, is how Trainwreck was a movie about grief. Spoiler alert: from the beginning we see that Amy is grieving her dad's declining health. She is using men, alcohol and drugs as a way to not feel the reality of the situation. As her father continues to decline, Amy moves into anger and attempts to alienate all that love her. Trainwreck has so much to teach about how we all can respond to grief( that is why it is funny, it is relatable) even if we don't do it in Amy Schumer fashion. However, for me, the moment that made the entire film Movie Rx worthy is how Amy's boss, played by Tilda Swinton, just days after the funeral, asks Amy, ( and I am paraphrasing) "Are we still doing this? Grief? I tried it once and I just don't do it." I tried and tried to find the script to quote for you, and sadly you will have to settle for my paraphrasing until you go see it for yourself. Happily Amy is shocked by her bosses callousness, however there are so many messages that all of us get around our own grief. "Really, you are still grieving this? You should be over this by now." In the film it is funny and shocking , in real life sometimes we don't question that absurd sentiment. It is a sentiment that needs to be seen as absurd, Amy helps us see that.
I recommend Trainwreck for ADULTS who can tolerate very adult themes, and who don't mind covering their eyes, ears and psyches for little bits of grossness and vulgarity. As tough as a few of the scenes were to watch( yes, I watched every sex scene with my hands over my eyes---it is what I do when I am embarrassed for the character, it is worth enduring to get to the real message of how very hard it is to grieve, the sweet ending of seeing Amy dance, and the unexpected delightful of seeing LeBron James play a parsimonious sentimentalist.
What movies have you seen lately that you would prescribe? What movies surprised you with deep life lessons that you didn't expect?