Monday, June 27, 2011

My Own Love Song

I’ve always been attracted to road movies. It’s the perfect platform to tell a transformational story. Rain Man, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Smoke Signals and The Grapes of Wrath are great examples of movies that are not about the destination but about the journey and what happens along the way.

Road movies present an opportunity for dramatic character arcs and change. Good ones don’t emphasize the physical journey but emphasize the spiritual journey. Olivier Dahan’s latest film, My Own Love Song, is a little gem that honors and pays homage to the road movie concept. This film is about broken people who are often forgotten and cast away by society.

Movies like My Own Love Song have always resonated within my soul. This is a journey often not taken by Hollywood. We are surrounded by people who are downhearted, broken, and poor. I think this film can be described as an allegory about our quest on life’s journey to restore the human spirit in a broken world.

I read several reviews online concerning this film. Most of them had a very unfavorable view of the film. In fact, it was hard to find anyone who had a good word to say. Most saw the movie as disconnected and disjointed. They particularly found the voice narrative and the fantasy elements to be irritating. I don’t think this film is meant to be taken literally. It’s presented in a dream state and, as I said earlier, it’s an allegory. In my view, the critics are off base and completely miss the point. Bottom line—this is an exceptional film and worth your attention. It is very much a spiritual and a redemptive film that presents the grace of God.

My Own Love Song starts out as a road movie where they begin the journey in Marysville, Kansas. It’s a journey into the heart of the deep south. Their destination is New Orleans. Jane (Renée Zellwenger) is a 30-something, wheelchair bound, ex-singer struggling to deal with her disabilities due to an auto accident. She has a unique friendship and has formed a bond with Joey (Forest Whitaker), a potential schizophrenic who talks to and hears voices from what he calls angels or ghosts.

In a desperate effort to discover if others can talk to angels, Joey convinces Jane to embark on a trip to hear an expert talk on the issue. Joey also has a hidden agenda. He found a letter from Jane’s son inviting her to come to New Orleans for his first communion. Jane had to gave up her son for adoption years earlier due the an accident. She is unaware of the letter and Joey’s hidden agenda.

Along the way, they encounter an assortment of broken and throwaway people. Among the list are Billie (Madeline Zinma), whose husband has disappeared and Caldwell (Nick Nolte), an ex-hippie and musician with a mysterious past. Caldwell joins them on the journey because he needs to get to a gig that is on the way. He needs a singer and thinks he has convinced Jane to sing “just two songs”. However, Jane believes she has lost the ability to sing.

In her own words Jane says, “Nothing is clear in our own world. Nothing happens as we intended it. Will I ever walk again?” All of the characters on this journey will discover the truth about themselves and the world they live in. How can Jane walk again without the ability to walk? Will Jane find the will to reconnect with her son in spite of her limitations? Can she find her voice?’ Is Joey mentally unstable or does he see things other people don’t see?

I think this film does an excellent job describing the human condition and asking important questions. How do we get fixed? Where does that kind of power come from? There is something comforting about seeing people who are disfranchised and forgotten find the power and the ability to connect to others and find a source of strength. I see the Spirit of God at work here. Matthew 11:28 says, “Come, come all who labor and who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. My Own Love Song is also a quest for rest. Are we not all laboring with heavy hearts looking for a source of strength and renewal?

Jane, Joey, Billie and Caldwell are all drawn to seek something bigger than themselves. Their road is the road of restoration and redemption.

1 comment:

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