Saturday, July 21, 2007

did you love me or not?

after a much needed evening of nurturing companionship with willow, gail and beth, of food, chat and a dvd, this comes highly recommended:

a guide to recognizing your saints (2006)

based on writer/director dito monteil's memoirs and primarily set in 1986, this simple and painfilled depiction of a frightened young man unable to cope in, and desperate to escape from, a suffocating and hopeless environment filled with frenetic violence, explores the damage and loss that arises from our inability to express love, or indeed ourselves, particularly within the family. the story is told and shot in an original, innovative way with some astonishing acting, particularly from shia laBeouf and chazz palminteri, whose unflinching depictions of dito and his father are fraught and heartbreaking. no less brilliant is channing tatum, playing antonio, dito's volatile best friend and the victim of an abusive father. diane wiest is understatedly superb, as ever, and robert downey jnr as the emotionally scarred adult Dito - well, it seems this man can do no wrong these days.

it seems to me unlikely that i might find emotional resonance with a story set in the violent streets of Queens, NY, and yet the feleing conveyed is deeply affecting in this uncompromisingly honest film that dares to depict hurt and brokenness, particularly in men. between them, laBeouf and Downey display dito's fragility and frustration as they expose the pain that comes from desperately wanting to be heard, understood and loved by a parent and the honest truth that even if one escapes and survives, the emotional hurt of our past is a heavy burden. not once is this film cloying or saccharine, nor these two in their witness to vulnerability - dito is one of the most authentically sympathetic characters i've seen in a long time. perhaps because he and his story are honest.

it leaves me deeply mindful of the nurture that the human soul needs, from others and towards itself. that there is no loss of dignity in admitting we are so often broken and in need of healing. where there is grace, there is no shame. yet all too often we profoundly misunderstand where it is that our strength is to be found.

i hope i will not forget this anytime soon...


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