And So It Goes
The performances of Mr. Douglas and Ms. Keaton are superb. I still feel like I'm inside the theatre, immersed in the story. It has stayed in my consciousness for days. Always a good sign.
In addition to a magnificent cast, the film beautifully portrays the two best things about being alive: love and humor.
As it begins we're way up in the sky, with a bird's eye view that travels over treetops. The air is bursting with the stunning voice of Judy Collins. Zooming passed water and sailboats, the camera gracefully takes us down, into the lovely town, until we can see the divinely wonderful Michael Douglas.
Michael's character Owen Little is driving to the Parkview Cemetery. He carries flowers as he climbs up the steep hill to the gravestone of his wife and the effort is exhausting. "You should get a discount if you die visiting your beloved," he grumbles while catching his breath.
This is our first glimpse into Owen's tendency to speak openly. Sometimes his motives are loving and generous. On the other hand, you never know when he'll say something blunt and hurtful. To him, he's just being honest. To others, it's an ouch.
On the way home, he sees a dog about to "give a gift" on the lawn so he stops the car and shoots him with a paint gun. His eyes are filled with glee. His smile can sparkle like the sun and his body language speaks volumes, but it's his eyes that reveal his subtle nuances and shifts in perspective. Like when he's trying to say the right thing after an intimate night. His eyes, filled with mixed emotions, search for the words to match the feelings.
"I know everyone, and everyone thinks they know me," he says early on, while drinking a martini on his porch. His next-door neighbor, Leah, played by Diane Keaton, sits right nearby on her own porch. She is patient and delightfully kind, but nevertheless, frequently exasperated. He blurts out the type of statements that people don't even admit to thinking. He does things that make his neighbors, family, and colleagues wince. And yet there's an innocence about him, like a child who just wants to be loved. A kid who is doing the best they can.
That first night Owen goes to sleep by himself with his pink argyle socks on and Leah sings at a restaurant in town. She sounds beautiful but sad: Hide your heart from sight. Lock your dreams at night...it could happen to you.
As the movie unfolds, Owen has moments of goodness. He attends Leah's cabaret act and begins to appreciate her talent. He's starting to seem nice. It's easy to think he has instantly changed, but then he reverts to his old self with a variety of bad behavior in every area of life.
When Leah says, "You need to have some compassion," Owen gets mad, admitting he had compassion once, but not now. The wound is exposed. You can see it in those great eyes.
She bravely keeps on singing her songs and feeling her feelings. Taking care of herself and all those around her. Her soul is as beautiful as her face.
Owen's heart opens slowly. Or does it? You have to wait to find out. All I'm saying is that the stunning voice of Judy Collins fills the air again. The camera brings us upward, back into the sky. Gently like a butterfly. There's a huge sound at the very end. It's the audience bursting into applause.