Saturday, November 06, 2010

The End

I watched Martin Scorsese's famous 'Taxi Driverlast night. It was riveting. The taxi driver, played by Robert de Niro, is a guy with insomnia, a sense of goodness and justice, he is nice to people and he watches the worst sort of porn in the theatre every day. He even takes a high-class woman he is trying to date to one of these movies and is bewildered when walks out of the theatre and refuses to see him again. He genuinely did not mean to be suggestive to her, he is just so used to those movies he doesn't realise it may look any other way to someone else. He works hard as a driver, he doesn't fuss about any sort of customer. He's a decent guy, you'd say if you met him, even a cute one (after all, he's Robert de Niro) but when you look at his red eyes and the zoned out look, you want to hurry away.

You must admit he's a compelling character.

I can draw a parallel with Remember Me, which I also watched recently, starring Robert Pattinson. Tyler (Pattinson) is a young guy who is shackled to the memory of the brother he loved and lost to suicide. His father (Pierce Brosnan) is deeply affected by that loss and loses himself in his work to forget, as a result of which he distances himself from his existing children, Tyler and Caroline. Tyler is a sweet brother to Caroline, an artistic kid who is a misfit in her class and the brunt of many little-girl jokes and cruelties. Tyler lives with a nutty roommate in an apartment, he is quite a bit lost himself but he is still young enough to be earnest. He gets involved with a girl who has witness her mother being shot dead in a subway when she herself was just 11. So both these people have difficult pasts and now have to deal with each other, themselves and their present.

Compelling again? Yes.

What's common to both these movies, however, is not only that they were strongly character-driven but also that both movies were unable to sustain the story to a good ending. Remember Me ends with the 9/11 incident and Taxi Driver turns weird and gory at the end. Both films manage to hobble and stand up again for certain reasons (that I won't give away here) in retrospect, but they are not satisfactory viewing as far as the story is concerned.

Now, pay attention. What makes the two stories compelling in the first place? Think about it.

Yes, the characters are interesting because they're not flat, they have good and bad, strange and normal. But you plan to watch the movies because you want to know what happens to these people and how it all ends.

A story is successful and good only when its ending is as good as its beginning and middle, as good and riveting as its characters. It's all too easy to put together a situation that reflects real life closely in its chaos and lack of sense. Fiction has to make sense. This is the basis of a story. All too often today we see editors publishing stories that are realistic but fall flat at the end. They are so taken with the realism, the non-sense of it, that they forgive the ending. They adjust the title a bit, link it here and there to the story and let it be. The reader or viewer is left to figure out what the hell he experienced in the story and if he thinks about it long enough, he will see some kind of sense. Probably as much sense as he sees in his own life (a little but not much).

Another film that had me thinking the same way was My Own Private Idaho. River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves play lead roles and do so beautifully, especially Phoenix. Read the review on Amazon.com. It's a strange set of people to hang around with but it's a film worth watching. Except the ending, as I've been saying.

Still, overall, all three films are very watchable, mainly thanks to the excellent actors and directors. You just need to put yourself in a generous mood to forgive the endings. And try not to ask 'So... what was that all about?'

1 comment:

Arpita said...

Out of the three films that you mention here, I have watched Remember Me. I think this was one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. The film is nice because it is realistic. It shows a slice of life. Every scene kind of makes the character of the protagonist clearer. And it touches a variety of aspect of the protagonist’s life. Hence the audience can relate to it: some may have a father like him, some might be a caring brother like Tyler and someone might have lost an elder brother. Even his sister’s character is well-developed. I think that is what best the story apart, because it just does not touch a few things, but actually makes us think about it all, and feel the situations for ourselves.

Now, coming to the ending…of course those of us who believe in happy endings and feel that is main aim of watching the film, well, this film might not feel so good to them. But what I felt about the ending is that it makes the story even more real. Because real life is not really made up of happy endings. Often situations arise that when things start to get just a little brighter, they fall apart once again. We feverently wish then if things turned out to be different. When the movie ended I had the same feeling of emptiness in me. What if he were not there at that time on that particular day? Things would get so much better then! His life was just starting to get sorted out.

What I think is that we should have an open mind while we watch a movie like this. We must know better than fairy-tales. Of course happy endings are nice, but sad endings are much more realistic. We should have it in us to accept the cruel truths of life. And I think that is what Remember Me is all about.

I was going through your blog entries and was really glad to find this review. I love Robert Pattinson, and this film is very close to my heart. It is nice to read your perspective on this, especially that you highlight the eerie way in which it ends.