Tonight, in honor of everyone else going home to be with their families, I saw my first movie ever–Alone. To be fair, I actually tried to get every member of my immediate and some members of my extended family to go with me. They all turned me down. No worries!
I had just spend three hours (a record! I know…I’m probably not cut out to be a grad student) alone in the New York Public Library reading the most recent critic of Tolstoy’s Aesthetics (1985!) and it seemed like the fitting thing to do was to head to MoMA solo and see a movie that “asks whether it’s possible, or even desirable, to feel unbridled, unquestioning joy in a world full of mistrust, cruelty, and ‘ordinary’ unhappiness.“
Happy-Go-Lucky does more than suggest it’s possible. For Poppy (Sally Hawkins) it’s inevitable. A quick perusal of reviews of this film suggest that it is a “comedy” on the “quest for optimism.” I’d argue that it’s a drama, or at very least a slice of reality, which for one lucky person, happens to be quite good. And, as the title implicitly suggests, she is lucky because she is happy, but also very lucky to be capable of such happiness.
The movie is deliberately dark and awkward at times, but like Poppy, is unable contain explosiveness tenderness, finesse, wonder and merriment. Each shot is contrast-laden, and specifically, cleaves to separate muted tones and searing brightness whose juxtaposition serve to envelope us in the film’s truth: we’re helplessly exposed and sickeningly vulnerable, but only when we refuse acknowledge it do we become entrenched in pain.
I don’t think the movie is arguing for or against optimism, rather, it pushes us to be active participants in our own narrative. At the same time, the underlying theme is that it’s easier to actively participate in a story you have actively molded to your own liking. We all create our own worldviews, and how much we like them determines how well we get by.
p.s November 26th is our one year anniversary! Happy Birthday Dulcinea!