In Good Company

Posted by Hello
I just saw In Good company.

The trailer for this film intrigued me from the moment I heard the opening notes of David Byrne's soulful "Glass, Concrete and Stone" and when Carter latched onto Dan's "invitation" to dinner, I was hooked.

Then the movie hit theaters, just a few short weeks before I left for Europe, I was unable to find the time to see it, and I refused to go alone. I've gone to movies by myself (Hero and House of Flying Daggers for example) before, but this was different.

So I missed my chance to see it in theaters. Work kept me busy and I had a journey for which I needed to prepare. When I returned, it was out of theaters and on its way to DVD release.

Tonight (the 18th of June), I finally managed to see it. It was everything I had been promised by what I had heard and seen and read and a little bit more. After the parts implied by the trailer, the movie advances through a winding continuation of reality. We are reminded that there is an "after" and it isn't always "happily ever." Please note that I'm about to speak about how the film ends, so this is a spoiler alert. Fairly warned be ye.

The movie opens all the right doors and sets up all the right dominos so that it could give us a hollywood ending. You may remember those. They are the endings that I ranted about way back in Clich├ęs are tasty! over a year ago. But rather than give us the happy tie-up-all-the-loose-ends guy-gets-the-girl perfection, it gives us real life. "Per l'amaro ed il dolce"--for the bitter and the sweet. The guy doesn't get the girl, though she does follow her dreams. He doesn't keep his job, though he worked hard for it. He's searching for himself. After the roles are reversed the mentor gives the young ex-boss a chance to work as his right-hand-man, and when the kid turns down the opportunity, the mentor lets him go with words of encouragement and wisdom. The mentor doesn't get the boy he was hoping for, but he has learned a few lessons from the boss that might as well have been his boy. Everyone grows up a little bit.

"Timing is everything", the movie tells us, through a third-tier supporting actor in a scene near the end. The film has taken a slice out of the lives of a handful of people and spun their stories into a heartbreaking story about life and work and love. There are three huge days in the lives of Dan and Carter. Days where everything comes rushing at them at once: jobs gained, jobs lost, pregnancies, divorces, moves and changes of plan and direction. At each onslaught we feel the stress and the fear and the reality of their lives closing in. Their ability to weather the storm and brace against each other for support--even as they argue and fight and sometimes resent one another--is what makes them human, and makes them worth respecting.

And as the movie begins to wrap the shroud of finality around itself every piece is appropriately addressed. Each character is cared for. And as Alex gets on the elevator I found myself praying that the movie would let the doors close, and let it be ok that she and Carter weren't "forever." And the doors closed, and in the final scene, when Carter answers his phone, it is not Alex but her father Dan--his mentor--that has called, to tell him about the baby. And it was beautiful that it was as real in its ending as it was in its beginning. Not perfect, but not horrid. Just real. Like water on glass.

I love it. In a single viewing it has become one of my favorite films.

[publishing note: the publishing of this post was delayed by two days so that it wouldn't overshadow father's day.]

Monday, June 20, 2005

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