Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Elegy

Just this evening, my wife and I went to see Elegy, a new film starring Penelope Cruz and Ben Kingsley. Instead of remaining comfortably in the more superficial aspects of "man in the Autumn of his life lusting after a woman in the Spring of hers", the film elects to dive much deeper, exploring the more meaty layers of intimacy, regret, love, and mortality, far beyond what Hollywood usually dares to portray.

I am no film reviewer, and I have no desire to summarize the plot or make cogent remarks about the acting methods employed by a stellar cast. Lovely cinematography aside, the film evokes primal fears: the fear of of aging, the fear of losing one's virility or attractiveness, the fear of facing life's regrets and missteps honestly and squarely. Ben Kingsley's character is besieged by conflicting emotions, and he fights all-too-familiar inner battles of (humanly) epic proportions. Meanwhile, Cruz demonstrates that her growing prowess as an actress of substance can illuminate a character's vulnerability and strengths equally well.

This film has transported me to times in my life when poor choices, unmitigated emotional reactions, unsaid words, or personal missteps caused others pain, or perhaps caused me to miss opportunities that may have brought potential unknowns to fruition. There is much food for thought here, and Elegy evokes emotion and thoughtful reflection quite readily.

Living with physical pain, depression, and several other chronic health conditions, I am acutely aware of my own aging process, and of how I frequently feel that my body has let me down. I could spend most of my time regretting the past and fretting over the future---two things I am very talented at, mind you---but I must continue to remind myself that life is right here, right now, in this present moment.

In the film, Ben Kingsley's character spends a great deal of his time and energy dwelling on the past, worrying about some unknown future, fueling his fears and anxieties rather than nurturing the present moment. I, for one, do not wish to follow his lead, although I will readily admit that I am well practiced when it comes to fear and anxiety. This film gave me pause to consider my blunders, my weaknesses and my failings, and I emerged from the theater ready to consider them more closely, and perhaps...perhaps...begin to let them---and the past---go.
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