Rust of the Soul
When it comes to films set in New England there are two types. Where the snow is white and fresh, Thanksgiving dinner is on the way, the folks are middle class, sure there will be banter but the problems will be handled if not solved , love will find a way and the snow will stay white and fresh. As the Volvo disappears out of focus.
Then there is the film where the snow is slush at best, sleet at worst. Everyone is drinking, driving and getting divorced. Pizza in the micro wave is the best they can do. There is no banter but a lot of f words, love is in short supply, everyone is waiting for Donald Trump to come and save them. And the snow never freshens up. The beat up Chevy half truck does its best.
The brilliant movie, Manchester by the Sea is very much in the second category. Our hero wants to die, his grief and guilt are so deep that his depression cannot be moved, he cannot beat it. Girls in the bar, single mums, his ex, his mates, his nephew, they all try. In a lesser film someone would build the bridge and he would become human again. But this is a dark masterpiece.
The man is broken, he would rather fight than fuck, he would rather grunt than grin. Years of therapy are the probably the answer but this is 100 minute movie covering two months of a very real life. Needless to say the snow never settles, its always covered in grey grit. If it wasn’t for Black Oscars Matter, Casey Affleck would get one.(see link for trailer)
My dear George twenty years ago had to bury both his wife and daughter. I asked him about grief. “You have to just get on with life, it takes two years for the gaps in the house to go, but you just have to keep going. Maybe it was easier for me because in the War I saw so many friends and my first fiancé die. I still have memories especially at night and I weep, it never disappears completely.”
Which reminds of Dr Johnson’s 1750 Rambler essay on Sorrow. Those that suffer this emotion “have suffered all sensibility of pleasure to be destroyed by a single blow…(and).. resigned their lives to gloom and despondency, and worn themselves out in unavailing misery”.
“An habitual sadness seizes on the soul, and the faculties are chained to a single object, which can never be contemplated but with hopeless uneasiness.”
“The safe and general antidote against sorrow is employment….among soldiers there is little grief; they see their friends fall without lamentation which is indulged in security and idleness, because they have no leisure to spare from the care of themselves.”
“Sorrow is a kind of rust of the soul, which every new idea contributes in its passage to scour away. It is the putrefaction of stagnant life and is remedied by exercise and motion.”