Wednesday, 13 July 2011


having studied french all through high school, up until 2nd year university, i can't help the fact that 14th july reminds me of bastille day. unfortunately, given the things happening in france over the last few years, i can't say that the remeberance is a positive one. while i used to have a love of french culture, history and films, it all seems to have dissipated now. it used to be a dream of mine to live in paris for a couple of months, and explore the city. it's just that i don't know how welcome i'd be these days. or how much i'd want to be in a place that doesn't really seem to want me.

so congratulations to the french, but excuse me if i sit out the celebrations.

last night i went to see a spanish film called biutiful, which was nominated for a couple of academy awards, including a very well-deserved best actor nomination for javier bardem. i can't say it was beautiful at all; in fact it would have to be one of the most thoroughly depressing and dreary films i've ever seen. which is not to say that it didn't raise some important issues - it certainly did. from mental illness, physical illness, fatherhood, exploitation of foreign workers, immigration issues, and child abuse, it covered a whole lot of ground. what made it so difficult to watch was that there was no let-up. there were very few moments of joy or hope, very few scenes that had smiling or laughter.

and i know that's my privilege showing yet again. that this is the reality of so many people's lives, where there is no let-up and precious little to smile or laugh about. i can't even begin to imagine what it's like to live with the hopelessness, the filth, the ugliness that comes with poverty. in the middle of the film, i was thinking to myself how extremely thankful i am to be protected from all of this and how extremely lucky. i think i really do live in a cocoon, sheltered from so much of the nastiness that exists in the world. i've managed to make my little world safe, and this film reminded me once again just how precious that safety is.

so yes, i'd recommend you get to see this film if you can. go prepared, but also ready to take it all in. to understand and to empathise, even with the worst of the characters. because this is humanity after all, and we are all a part of it.

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