Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Top Ten #3

Sorry it's been a bit. I was out of town over the weekend (wedding in Michigan--not mine). So here's the next film:

Fearless, 1993, Written by Rafael Yglesias (based on his book); Directed by Peter Weir

In his 80's and 90's films, Peter Weir always seemed to have the ability to portray real-life events in extraordinary ways, without losing much in the way of realism. The experiences are heightened but remain real (see Witness, The Mosquito Coast, and Dead Poet's Society for examples). Fearless is probably the most heightened and in the movie, the dramatic becomes sublime. The story revolves around Max Klein (Jeff Bridges in one his finest performances), the survivor and hero of a terrible plane crash that killed his best friend. While the other survivors struggle with the understandable problems of survivor's guilt, nightmares, etc., Max becomes distanced from his family, and convinced that since he should have died in the crash, he can not be killed now (thus the title). He eats strawberries (to which he has a fatal allergy), walks on building ledges, and generally believes he is invincible. As he drifts farther and farther from his wife (Isabella Rossellini), a psychologist (John Turturro) links him with Carla (Rosie Perez), a woman whose infant son died in the crash. Their "affair of the soul" destabilizes his marriage even more. The movie is filled with amazing scenes including one in which Max straps Carla, clutching a toolbox, into his Volvo and drives straight into a wall, proving to her that she could never have held her baby tight enough to save him (The instrumental opening of U2's The Streets Have No Name provides an unforgettable score to the scene). Just as powerful is Max's decision to help his wife understand his near death experience by eating strawberries (and seemingly choosing ) to go into anaphylactic shock so that she is forced to attempt to save him. Though Max's fearlessness seems be a mental illness of some sort it is also a state of grace. And you're never really sure, despite his disconnection from his family, whether or not he should return to the land of the living.


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