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Saturday, March 12, 2011

"I promise you, this will not be your life."

Yesterday I posted about The Adjustment Bureau, which deals with the theme of free will, but tonight I watched a movie, The Next Three Days, which deals much more profoundly with the subjects of desire, choice, and will.

- Russell Crowe as John Brennan

The 2010 movie is a remake the 2007 French film Pour Elle (Anything for Her) by Fred CavayƩ. Directed by Paul Haggis (Crash), it stars Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, and Brian Dennehy, and it tells the story of a family: college teacher John Brennan (Crowe), his wife Lara, and their little son. Everything falls apart for them when Lara is suddenly arrested for the murder of her boss. She's found guilty and though an appeal is pursued, it soon becomes evident that she will be in prison for at least twenty years. After she unsuccessfully tries to commit suicide, and given the obvious emotional trauma to their son, John does something odd, and you can watch the genesis of his decision-making as he lectures his class on Don Quixote ......

We spend a lot of time trying to organize the world. We build clocks and calendars and try to predict the weather. But what part of our life is truly under our control? What if we choose to exist purely in a reality of our own making? Does that render us insane? And if it does isn't that better than a life of despair?

- visiting mom in prison

John doesn't make the best of things, he doesn't accept the inevitable, he doesn't move on: instead he tells Lara, "I promise you, this will not be your life", and then he does what's necessary to make that so. You might assume that what follows is an unrealistic "feel good" montage of preparation for a heist, or in this case a jailbeak, along the lines of Oceans Eleven, but nothing could be further from the truth - John's trodden path is harrowing in every way. Roger Ebert, who only gave the movie two and a half stars, thinks Crowe's character can't credibly make such a journey, but I disagree.

I don't want to give too much away for those who plan to see the movie, but I will say that Russell Crowe is really good, and that I found the film a suspenseful thriller. I also found the movie to be a philosophically demanding one .... it asks the question that I ask myself: what choices will I have the integrity to make in the name of love?


Blogger Susan said...

As you know, I don't watch "harrowing." But I admire those who make sense of it.

12:49 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Susan,

You'd like it, I think. It's not really gory, just emotionally taxing because he has to almost become a different kind of person. But he still retains his basic goodness - there's a part where he steals money from a meth lab to have the money to break his wife out of jail, but he won't shoot the guard dog :)

2:05 PM  

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