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Learning Gravity (aka the Undertaking) (2007)

8.3
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 16 users  
Reviews: 1 user | 1 critic

An elegant, elegiac film on Thomas Lynch. Three generations of Lynchs work in the chain of Michigan funeral homes set up by Lynch's father. But what marks Thomas out from the rest of the ... See full summary »

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Title: Learning Gravity (aka the Undertaking) (2007)

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Cast

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Nancy
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Bernie Butler ...
Nora (as Bernadette Butler)
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George
Mary Foran ...
Widow
Gary Hetzler ...
Thomas
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An elegant, elegiac film on Thomas Lynch. Three generations of Lynchs work in the chain of Michigan funeral homes set up by Lynch's father. But what marks Thomas out from the rest of the brood is that he is also a renowned poet and essayist whose work has won the prestigious American Book Award and has been in the final shortlist for the National Book Award one of the most eminent literary prizes in the United States. Lynch's writing is noted for its thoughtfulness and dark humour and this film is shot through with the same acumen combined with a sharp sense of the absurd. The film is part manifesto, part memoir. Lynch narrates the documentary in his soft melodic baritone expounding on what death and the business of dying can teach the living. His approach to mortality is never sentimental and far from clinical. He sees in each individual he buries, a history - a friend who died too early, a suicide which shouldn't have happened, a burial which took place decades after the death. This... Written by Anonymous

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5 June 2007 (Ireland)  »

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Learning Gravity  »

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Engaging and well paced flow to Lynch and his work
16 November 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I'm not a big poetry fan and I had not heard of Thomas Lynch before watching this film. Like his father before him and many of his extended family, Thomas Lynch is an undertaker, director indeed of Lynch & Sons in Michigan, and he has used his experience in working with death to inform his writing as a poet. Those much better read than myself will also have been familiar with Lynch from his book "The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade" and this film is a mix of Lynch's poetry and he himself talking back over his life and experiences.

The film is a great selling device for the book because it is hard not to be taken in and engaged by it. Lynch leads the film with a wonderful familiarity that made me think I was listening to someone who saw the camera as a trusted friend – not as an intrusion or an observer and nothing more. His voice is soft and lovely and it fits his poetry really well. The works themselves are interesting and gentle; they don't offer great truths or revelations but they are well-observed and cleverly phrased. The memories of Lynch are also good value even if some of the home movie footage is a bit morbid; being from rural Northern Ireland, I did like the footage of his family in Ireland, with the innocent but politically incorrect dog (believe it or not called Sambo), the Triumph Acclaim they drive, the cottage that is at once warm and inviting but also broken down and old.

The film is well put together and the direction, look and feel of the film sits well with the words and Lynch's voice. Overall it is an engaging film, not awe-inspiring or supremely moving but it flows really well and did hold my attention and bring me into line with what it was doing. Off the back of this I suspect I will be looking to buy a copy of the poetry collection of The Undertaking.


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