Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Of cogs and humans

I haven't written in a while because the whole experience of being in Canterbury took over. There were too many things going on at once for me to sit down and write, instead of paying attention. Maybe, that's the difficult learner in me - I'd rather go out and meet the world than sit, even though I can't keep to the "you'll sleep when you're dead" maxim. (There's nothing like a good snooze. ;) ) So I didn't really break my pattern in the sense to stay in my room and write, but I did break it in another way: I went to the cinema... alone. And liked it. 

Angel's share is a 2012 Ken Loach film, currently showing at festivals and non-multiplex cinemas around Europe. I've decided to be a show-off and say I've seen it twice in the past three weeks. I'm a fan and would  recommend it to anyone, if for nothing then for the way it makes people feel upon watching, and there 's so much more to it. 

The story is not the movie's strong point - most of the audience could more or less predict what would happen next. Everything revolves around a young man with a difficult and violent past who needs to get his life on track in order to take care of his girlfriend and their unborn child. Being sentenced to 300 hours of community service proves to be one of the best things that happen to him as he meets Harry, a community service supervisor with a strong belief that everyone deserves a second chance. It's a feel-good movie - it would be inconsistent to the "feel-good movie" notion for anything bad to happen, and yet, none of the audience I spoke to, could keep their mind straight and not fear for Robbie's fortunes. The acting and the way the characters are formed through the script and the camera simply glues one to the seat. Their success, be it in legal or illegal matters, becomes important, if not internalized. 
But two things have been lingering in my mind ever since I've seen the movie for the first time: Does Robbie really succeed in the end? (People who are not in the mood for spoilers should stop reading now - watch the movie and then come back. ;) ) 

He gets the money and the job in a way that could only get him into more trouble. His girlfriend tells him she'll never come back to the courtroom right at the beginning of the film. Will she ever know what he had done? Does it even matter for their relationship to work? Is he really out of the woods? 

One other thing... Who would have known that Robbie's strength would be his nose? This is just my "teacher" role kicking in - How would I identify that in a language classroom? Is that even a question to ask? We're all parts of a system that is slow to change and quite inflexible, but most of us try to do the best we can. No one can "save" everyone, being a teacher one learns that the hard way, but can we be criticized for not doing the impossible (and there is at least a "wee" bit of critique in this movie)? For me one of the maddening things about my job is that sometimes the key to success is simple, but difficult to see and the stakes are usually high. I can hear Marie saying something like - "Teachers always panic about what to do, instead of stepping back and taking a little time to wonder about what's in front of them." 

All in all, go see the movie. 

And remember, sometimes a little totally random good goes a long way. Just ask Harry, he'll tell you all about his "Angel's share".

All my love,

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