Blue ††and††† This Is My Father

 

It is interesting to review the above two films together because they can be both compared and contrasted.

 

In Blue the story is primarily centered around the character played by Juliette Binoche.(She has been a favorite of mine ever since her role in The Unbearable Lightness Of Being.)The story starts out with a car ride through the countryside.You see that the brake fluid is leaking which leads to an accident that kills the father and five-year-old daughter leaving Binoche, the mother, in the hospital but not critically injured.Her primary injury is emotional.She is devastated by the loss.She tries suicide but is not really able to follow through.When she leaves the hospital she arranges her affairs financially and goes from living in a lovely country home to an apartment in the city.(Her husband was a very successful composer and conductor so money isnít an issue.She is able to go live in the city and not work.)She just wants to live out her life in simple solitude.It is too dangerous to have relationships.

 

Her husbandís collaborator/partner loves her and is finally able to draw her out of her solitude by getting her involved in the music.It turns out that she was really the guiding genius behind her husbandís compositions.She also learns that for the last couple of years he has had a mistress.Why would any man with such a talented and lovely wife seek out a mistress?The movie attempts no answer to this question.My guess would be men are stupid!But besides that obvious comment, my second guess would be that he was probably threatened by his wifeÖshe was perfect.More talented, more beautiful, and more generous and giving than he was so that maybe that made him seek comfort in a less ego-threatening relationship.At any rate, the mistress is pregnant with his child and so the wife moves her into the family country home---because that is the type of emotionally generous person she is.

 

At the end she is ready to continue her life, she is free from her depression, free from the old relationship with her husband that held her back.She will never forget, she will always love them, but she is ready now to move on with her life and be acknowledged as a composer.

 

(Special Note: This movie is part of a trilogy: Trois Couleurs: Bleu made in 1993 and then Trois Couleurs: Rouge and Blanc made in 1994.Binoche starred in the first one and had cameos in the other two and they were all directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski who also directed The Decalogue in 1988.He died in 1996.The French flag is tricolored---blue, red, and white.The three colors stand for liberty, fraternity, and equality in that order.So Blue is about liberty.

 

In This Is My Father we are also dealing with loss on several levels.A Chicago family is having difficulty.The elderly mother is bedridden from a stroke.Her daughter is the family caregiver and it is a struggle as she is also dealing with her rebellious teenage son and has no husband around.Her older brother, a burned out Chicago teacher named Kieran Johnson, (played by James Caan), is a frequent visitor.One day they discover an old picture of their mother with another man.Caan has never known who his father is as his mother came over from Ireland carrying him inside her womb.So, with his teenage nephew in tow, he goes off to Ireland to see what he can find out.

 

Most of the story at this point is the story of his mother and father as told by someone who once knew them.It turns out his father was a poor farmer (played by Aidan Quinn) that loved his mother when she was only 17.She deeply loved him in turn.When the relationship is discovered, since she comes from a fairly well off family, she is told to break off the relationship or the man will be arrested. She writes him that she wants to run off with him.He writes her the same.The letters donít get through and when he believes the police are coming to arrest him (which they are not) he hangs himself.†† So on one level, like Blue, it is a story about miscommunication in a relationship, about two people who love one another but donít know how to successfully develop the relationship.

 

But on another level it is about economics.††

 

What else could he do?Or so he felt.The poor man could no longer go on without her.Or so he felt.He saw no purpose in going on living.

 

In both movies the central character attempts suicide.Binoche fails to go through with it, in part because her life, even without her beloved husband and daughter, is a rich one both financially and in terms of self-esteem.She has many choices.Aidan Quinn sees no choices and gives up.

 

(Special Note:This movie was created by the Quinn family.Aidan plays the lead role.His brother Paul wrote the screenplay and directed the movie.His brother Declan was the cinematographer.The script is based on a story Theresa Quinn told her children.)

 

Yes, this is not Ireland of the past when class lines were rigid and poverty could be grinding and choices very limited.But, doesnít poverty desperately limit choicestoday?