Tag Archives: death

Maternal Instincts – Movie Review

Image credit: hollywoodreporter.com

Image credit: hollywoodreporter.com

I’ve said before that the two occasions on which the main players look their best – at weddings and funerals – are the same occasions when the rest of us can look our worst. I guess there’s something about celebrating the beginning of a new life that a marriage is, or the ending of another through death, that causes some of us to act out.

That’s one of the impressions that I was left with after viewing the movie, “August: Osage County”. Secrets are uncovered, plain speech is discovered, and a daughter takes her mother down as she attempts to find the pills that she’s convinced are the cause of her mother’s mean-spiritedness. So no, it’s not the feel-good movie of the year.

The family members gather to attend the funeral of a man who committed suicide, it seems, because his life had become unbearable. Living with a wife who was suffering from mouth cancer but who still insisted on having her smokes, one wonders if her strong mouth and caustic speech was what drove him to take his life, because something else had already driven him to drink.

The three mothers in this film wouldn’t exactly be called nurturing, but that’s probably because each had her own demons to contend with.

The widow, thought that it was the perfect opportunity to tell her daughter that she broke her father’s heart when she moved away from home. But while she pushed the father out front, it was obvious that the daughter never showing up to give support to her, was only one of many hurts.

The widow’s sister-in-law considered her only son a disappointment to her and all concerned, but it was likely that since she’d been dancing with guilt for years concerning his paternity, she never really saw her son – only her mistake.

And the widow’s daughter, who was herself the mother of a teenaged girl, seemed unwilling to take any of the responsibility for the fact that her child was well on her way to disregarding her own mother, and continuing the cycle of blame.

The end of someone’s life causes most of us to reflect on our own lives, and the characters in this movie probably did this in spades – and none of them was happy with what they were seeing.

Unfortunately, when our lives that generally hold so much promise at the beginning, show no such sign of it at the end, we would probably agree with the main protagonist when she says, “Thank God we can’t tell the future – we’d never get out of bed”.

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Please accept my regrets

Have you ever wondered why people say that you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead? Maybe it’s because they can’t talk back and actually set the record straight. Whatever the reason, funerals are normally filled with glowing tributes to the one who has passed on.

I do remember one exception though. The life of the young man, who died when he had been expected to recover from an operation, was laid out – just as he was in the church. While his many attributes were praised, we came away from his funeral knowing that he was imperfect as we all are. And while this was actually a refreshing change, I had to admit that it was a little too much information.

Because I didn’t need to know that his seven children were not all with the same woman. I didn’t need to hear that he was a less than obedient youth. I didn’t want to know that he sometimes skipped school and talked back to his mother. His sister all but said that she feared for his immortal soul since he didn’t appear to have come around to her way of thinking, so I guess the goodbye would have been particularly painful for her.

I ended up feeling just a tad uncomfortable – for him – and he couldn’t even hear her. But since funerals, while they celebrate the dead, are really for us who remain alive, maybe that’s exactly what she intended. Just like the preachers who rain down fire and brimstone on the captive audience, since it might be a while before they see that many people again.

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey said that she sees the death of someone as a signal to turn up the volume in our own lives. Yes, it’s important to live fully, and to do all the things we want to do, but one thing death shouldn’t have to remind us to do, is to make amends. It already has enough to carry. Why should it carry our regrets too?