Sunday, 10 April 2011

On being emotional

I am no great analyst - not that I don’t wish I was...Even when I was little, there was always a desire in me to be smarter, more insightful, more creative with the ideas I get from everywhere; yet I never quite managed to internalize these desires into my perspective on things; In time, I hardly became more clever and constructive. No magic came to be, even if I hoped that one day I would wake up a changed person, or at least that all the books I’ve read will change me significantly. It simply never happened.

I did, however, become more emotional in my view on things – or rather, I learned to accept that my perspective is primarily an emotional one, and make it a part of my ‘style’ (if not an advantage), instead of carrying a feeling of shame, almost guilt, because of that single mark of my personality. it has not been an easy thing to do, and it still isn’t – to say that you want to discuss things, but you have very little to offer but your subjective, emotion-driven perspective, often feels like having nothing to say at all, and it still often makes me blush when confronted with perspectives more insightful, academic, marked by more knowledge (and the fact that I somehow managed to surround myself with a lot of people officially belonging to the academia hardly makes it easier for me) than the one I can offer, substantiated by nothing more than my quiet inner voice. Yet sometimes...sometimes I let go and enjoy it. As, on certain rare occasions, I lose the shyness and the feeling that I need to be ‘smart’ in order to enjoy things the right way, and I simply let go.

This week, I tried letting go a lot – and it led to me realizing that all the films I’ve seen recently seem to deal with one topic: the need to belong. What is even lovelier, the belonging always seems to be of the most private, intimate kind possible: the belonging to one individual, one human being, one partner. Sometimes it is the dominating topic of the film – but mostly not. To belong, it seems, is often presented as a need less ‘visible’, but constantly present. And it is often a symbol, a sign marking the finding of another kind of ‘normality’: in ‘Boy A’, which I saw the other night, belonging to one soul meant being able to live at all (sadly, it also depicted how fragile the illusion of belonging is); also – and just as in ‘Never let me go’, which left me crying in a public space, making my sadness as much an experiment as a humane reaction – it is a mark of having a soul: to be loved, to belong, is a visual, practical (oh how clumsy and inadequate all these words sound) confirmation that to ‘me’ there is something deeper than what I appear to be; I can be important enough to someone enough for that person to take me as I am, so there must be that ‘something’ to me that cannot be seen by the naked eye, but that IS indeed there (I know, in any other situation this sort of theory is just completely false – as one can love the most terrible of monsters, for love has a strange way of choosing its objects; tho in these movies, it seems to fit perfectly somehow). I CAN love, even if everything that is surrounding me may indicate otherwise (and it does, which is why both these movies are so unbearably difficult and sad, but also tremendously beautiful – and worthy of far more thoughts and words than they sadly get from me). And is the idea of belonging to someone that is a sign that everything still can be all right, even if the elements of ‘everything’ bear so little attachment to the potential bond between two people, no hugs and closeness can ever really make all of it right, and it is all simply a matter of destiny/fighting/universe, or whatever other explanation you choose to believe in...

...just like in ‘Onda vidim Tanju’/’Then I see Tanja’, the movie I saw last night. Done by a young Croatian director Juraj Lerotić, ‘Tanja’ is a movie both unusual – made together not from filmed material, but from a wonderful set of photographs – and very ‘usual’ – telling a story of a budding teenage romance in a surrounding filled with personal tragedies. Yet even if the story – overloaded with sadness – can seem a bit over the top, the beauty of the movie comes from the writer/director’s openness towards accepting emotions, instead of hiding away from them in any way. ‘Tanja’ is an example of truly courageous filmmaking in the way it treats the souls of its protagonists: it allows them to be delicate, fragile, gentle, even when it might seem that, in the ‘real world’, that sort of gentleness could be misunderstood, frowned upon, avoided as something that goes over the top, beyond what is acceptable in everyday relations (and boundaries there are indeed: me shedding tears to ‘Never let me go’ was completely ignored by my co-travellers – two ladies, one younger, one old – who, not knowing why I am crying, and obviously not wanting to intervene, continued talking to me or ignoring me just as they did before it happened, pretending not to notice it at all; showing too much emotion made them not more sensible towards me, but simply uncomfortable to the point of trying to ignore it). Lerotić allows his characters to feel and to love, and he allows himself to observe them with love through the eye of the camera – which makes his film incredibly endearing and gentle, even at its most humorous moments (and there indeed are many, some of them painted dark, some lighter). The end result is a movie that is both ‘emotional’ in itself, and tremendously emotionally engaging; one that reminds us of how sometimes, no matter how old (or young) you are, life is just so much easier when you are not going through it alone; and even if the world is confusing, and people can be confusing too, to be emotionally courageous can be rewarding (tho there are no guarantees, any cynic or a passionate Mike Leigh fan would have to conclude), and one person really can bring with him/herself all the hope in the world, and all the strength. In the words of Barry Egan, P.T. Anderson’s gentle loser of whom Lerotić’s teenage hero probably would never even hear of, “I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than anything you can imagine“. Which is, I guess, all I want to hear on some days...when I too get particularly emotional.

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