A support system
Watching Columbus, a sort of companion piece to Lost in Translation, for some reason I was thinking of Darren Aronofsky’s Mother!
Maybe the reliance on structure as character, the crushing weight of commitment.
Anyways, Columbus was a beautiful film. For those who like that type of movie, a very quiet, very simple study of deeply unhappy people confined by their lives who happen to enter the same orbit for a brief period, travel and find understanding while using architecture as a way in, even if it had vastly different meanings in their respective lives.
But ultimately what it make me do was revive my stream of conscience thoughts I wrote after watching Mother! This is not something written well or even coherent. But I wrote it, and it was languishing on the fringe of my notes, so here goes.
By the end of the movie, the most throbbing thought I had was why was this film made. I don’t know the director’s life, his circumstance and his companionship, but to me this movie either felt like an apology for the way he treated someone special in his life, or a condemnation of how someone else treated a woman in their life. Or maybe just the way women are treated in life in general, but there was something a bit personal about the aggrandization and sapping nature of a creative soul to not think it wasn’t something deeply personal.
I hadn’t, and still haven’t read any critiques or examinations of this film, and I am aware many exist. Actually, one of the philosophy podcasts I listen to did an entire episode dedicated to the deconstruction of this film. But I have avoided those, as I drew my conclusions, my meaning from what I saw and somehow I am going to leave it at that for the time being.
Almost immediately, the house to me represented her physical body. Which made sense, as it’s beating heart, it’s blood, was reflected in the way that she was treated. It was the things she tried to do before she had a child that no one respected. The things that mattered to her that everyone took advantage of and walked all over. And I thought it was brilliant that it also represented metaphorically and literally the way we let people into our lives, and they try to change us. And the thing about this movie is, the absurdist nature of it, truly does scream out the dual nature of it’s existence. The scene of people literally trying to paint the house, thinking it was the way they could help, what she wanted? How people try to help us by trying to change us, make us over beautiful in the way they want. It was not what she wanted or even asked for. People abused the house the way they abused her, as they were let in, eventually causing the water to break in the kitchen streaming everywhere, which to me was symbolic sexually, especially at that point in the movie.
The parent dynamic was represented by the initial older couple that came to them. The sick father figure, and the motherly figure who constantly judged her. To whom nothing could be done right. Within moments they assumed such a level of control and privilege it almost feels like a waking nightmare. And the extending family dynamic, who came streaming into their lives. If this movie was an apology for the directors own treatment of his wife (if he’s even married, or straight…I have no idea), it to me represented possibly the cost of success - that as Him’s book became famous, as they received success, people began to hang on and demand more and more from them. Him was so wrapped up in himself that nothing she could do would fill the void in him. So, the hole, void, began to open in her.
The men in the film are constantly treating her as a sex symbol. the way they look at her, talk to her, and eventually grope and try to have their way with her. The advances were unwanted and when she tried to deny them, she is treated as though it’s her character flaw.
The religious symbolism, the cult like adoration that enables Him’s behavior. I saw it as a commentary on the way society can make it’s celebrities almost religious figures as they look at them to define their own lives. And Him in turn fed off and used and needed them. He couldn’t let them go, even though they were destroying everything. I realize the easy interpretation would be a commentary on Christianity, but I took it more as using Christianity as a parallel for pop culture worship. And this film is fearless and brutal in it’s surrealistic depiction of destruction both physical and metaphorical. A truly disturbing, absurdist film that almost blinks along at a pace that seems to exponentially accelerate before you can be sure anything is truly real. Make no mistake, this could be considered a sick film.
And as well I thought the movie also represented a lifetime. From birth, the first scene as she was materialized into the bed and the end going to ashes. And then the final scene with another woman in the same situation. The cycle repeats. How people, men, use people for their own needs. People can bleed others dry to suit their own selfishness.
How hard it is to watch something like this and not feel incredible self reflection, horror, and loathing for one’s pursuit of what one may view as needed. More on this someday.
I loved how as the film went on, the battle raged both inside her, and physically in the world around her. The conflict, the terrorist hijaking of her ideas being executed one by one. Her world was falling apart and instead of trying to help her, Him kept moving her into smaller and smaller rooms and feeding off her life force. Eventually even destroying the thing that mattered most to her. The shrinking, and retreating Him and her into the confines of the room was so heart wrenching. And the scene where Him, Javier Bardem, reduced to his most predatory, lying, base nature, was a truly sickening moment. Only to be followed by an even quickly more sick scene, and another, and another. Sick, or so over the top it’s darkly comedic?
The movie made me think so much about the needs of others. The cost of success. The physical and metaphysical toll of other on us. Sacrifice. How far do we go for love? What is love in the face of pain? Is reliance upon, inspiration in the most usurping sense, something one can even call love? Can we actually ever change people? Do people change. I cried during it. Was angry, sad. Lonely. Disturbed. It made me think so much. Brilliant, to me.
Finally, I was left with the thought that this was a modern re-telling of one of my favorite child books. Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree”. It’s the same subject matter. What is love? To give all of yourself to someone who only takes? At what point is it too much? Everyone, I am sure, from their own point of view, has their reasons. I am sure Him did too, he says as much, gleefully in the end.