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Wilson Joel is a man in trouble. There's a searing pain in his gut that he can't tolerate and a dazed quietness to his struggle as he tries to maintain his equilibrium. Wilson is attempting to move on from the sudden and inexplicable suicide of his wife. His mother-in-law is there for him, but her sympathies turn quickly. He has an employer that seems to want to help him, and a workmate who wants him for herself. But nothing and no one can give Wilson solace; so, he seeks oblivion. It is not the usual alcohol or drugs. Wilson inhales fumes from gasoline cans and model airplane fuel and finds temporary salvation in the company of remote-control model enthusiasts. However, nothing that provides him relief really lasts. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
This is not your mother's film about death of a loved one
This is not 'Terms of Endearment'. This film does not offer answers, explanations, or resolution, and as such I found it to be a very effective portrayal of the aftermath of a suicide.
It's not an enjoyable film to watch, but it's very much worthwhile. First off, the acting is fantastic. Philip Seymour Hoffman deserves all the raves he's getting for this role -- he's downright painful to watch. All of the supporting cast -- except for the mother-in-law portrayed by Kathy Bates, who is exhausted with her own grief -- brilliantly introduces nuances of discomfort. It's not overdone, but it's obvious that these characters are internally dealing with the question of how to deal with Hoffman's character Wilson, who has just suffered this terrible and shocking loss. The dialogue is consistently and realistically not natural, in keeping with the awkward position of the supporting characters and Wilson's deteriorating mental health.
I have seen this film criticized because Wilson's position is *so* dreary, that it may seem over-the-top, unrealistic. But, really, the character's wife recently shot herself. What bright spots were such critics expecting in this character's life at this time? I believe the writing of the plot is realistic in this regard.
Structurally, it's brave, risky, and effective. I felt alienated by the lack of explanation and resolution of Wilson's position. Not a positive emotion to walk out of a film with, but extremely powerful. The sparse soundtrack and the painfully sympathetic supporting characters all added to this feeling of alienation.
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