Somehow I missed this film when it was first in theaters and just saw it for the first time a few weeks back at a screening at the Cinefamily with writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood in attendance. This look at the film will be partially my thoughts on the film and a some of the insights she shared with the audience during the Q&A after the film. There will be some plot spoilers.
Willie: Where you been?
Erica: I’ve been here.
Willie: I know that. How come you don’t call me back?
Erica: There’s just a lot going on right now.
Willie: Does your mother got a problem with me?
Erica: I don’t know. No.
Willie: Cause I saw the way she looked at me when you told her we were gonna get married.
Erica: I think you should go.
Willie: I want to talk to you.
Erica: I don’t have anything to say.
Sara Goldfarb: I almost fit in my red dress. The one I wore to your high school graduation. The one your father liked so much. Oh, I remember how he looked at me in that red dress.
Harry Goldfarb: Ma, what’s the big deal about the red dress?
Sara Goldfarb: I’m going to wear it at. . . You don’t know! I’m gonna be on television. I got a call and an application. . .
Harry Goldfarb: Come on, Ma, who’s pulling your leg?
Sara Goldfarb: No, no, no. I’m tellin’ ya. I’m gonna be a contestant on television. They haven’t told me when yet, but you’ll be proud when you see your mother in her red dress on TV.
Harry Goldfarb: What is the big deal?. Those pills will kill you before you get on.
Sara Goldfarb: “Big deal?” You drove up in a cab. Did you see who had the best seat? I’m somebody now, Harry. Everybody likes me. Soon. . .millions of people will see me and they’ll all like me. I’ll tell them about you and your father. How good he was to us. Remember? It’s a reason to get up in the morning. It’s a reason to lose weight, to fit in the red dress. It’s a reason to smile. It makes tomorrow all right. [sighs] What have I got, Harry? Hmm? Why should I even make the bed or wash the dishes? I do them, but why should I? I’m alone. Your father’s gone, you’re gone. I got no one to care for. What have I got, Harry? I’m lonely. I’m old.
Harry Goldfarb: You got friends, Ma.
Sara Goldfarb: It’s not the same. They don’t need me. I like the way I feel. I like thinking about the red dress and the television and you and your father. Now when I get the sun, I smile.
Elijah Price: Now that we know who you are… I know who I am. I’m not a mistake! It all makes sense. In a comic, you know how you can tell who the arch-villain’s going to be? He’s the exact opposite of the hero, and most time’s they’re friends, like you and me. I should’ve known way back when. You know why, David? Because of the kids. . .They called me Mr. Glass.
I’m sure a lot has been written about this film, so this piece is mostly going to be a bit of personal reflection, my take on the feminist aspects of the film, Ang Lee’s love of Westerns and a bit of fangirling over the cinematography and music. I first saw this movie in Klamath Falls, Oregon in February of 2001 – a few months before the Oscars. My mom and I had gone up there from my hometown for some medical tests – we were pretty sure I was dying. That first day I got a halter monitor and we were really depressed. I was so ill I couldn’t eat chow mein (at the time probably my favorite food) so we went and saw Traffic and it was the perfect film for our depressed mood. When we had to stay an extra day, we took the time to see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which we were pretty sure was never going to make it to our town (surprisingly, they did get the movie after the Oscars and it was probably the first foreign language film to play at that theatre in its 80 year history). On the medical side of this story, I wound up getting rushed to Sacramento the next week for pacemaker surgery and have had one implanted ever since. On the film side of this story, I love this movie with all of my heart and no matter how many times I watch it (I once watched it with French subtitles on; true story), it makes me weep by the end. It’s a rich and beautiful film in many ways. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning four: Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction (won), Best Cinematography (w0n), Best Original Song, Best Original Score (won), Best Film Editing, Best Foreign Language Film (won), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture. The other films up for Best Picture that year were Chocolat, Erin Brockovich, Traffic and winner Gladiator. Beware: there be spoilers after the cut.