My big achievement today was leaving the house! I went and got the car washed (and then a bird promptly defouled it as I was en route to my next destination), then went and wandered around Westfield Bondi Junction for an hour. I realised as I was wandering I had probably bitten off more than I could chew by going to a mall – they already have a disorienting effect and it is amplified many times at Bondi Junction and then even more when you’re not quite with it. But I managed to buy some food from Coles and things from the chemist and get home in one piece so I think it was successful.
Then I curled up on the couch and watched the film Shopgirl, starring Steve Martin, Claire Danes and Jason Schwartzman. I had no idea what to expect from this movie, but it knocked me sideways a bit. It’s quite muted and slow in style and pace, but beautifully acted, shot and written. It just shows states of loneliness and melancholy so well. At first I was a little annoyed at the casual attitude it seemed to have towards sex, but it didn’t take long to realise that the point it was making was that people desperately need to create real connections with one another, and that sex and the trappings of success are not enough to sustain anyone. There is a spot on review of the film here (apologies – you’ll have to ignore the unfortunate banner ads). I would echo the reviewer when he likens it to Lost in Translation – each film is great in its own right, but common to both is an actor (Bill Murray / Steve Martin) who was previously known for his total childish buffoonery remaking himself into a thoughtful, complex and melancholy adult; it deepens the pathos somewhat. And of course there is the relationship (consummated or not) between a young woman and a much older man.
It left me crying because there were lots of echoes in my own life in this film, especially in that relationship between Danes’ and Martin’s characters. I had a similar relationship in my late teens/early twenties and a decade later I can see it for what it was, but I still mourn at times for the loss…the loss of time, the loss of innocence, if that isn’t too cheesy. I know it was just one of many steps that led me to where I am now, but it did leave some pretty deep scars.
On reflection, and after seeing this film, it also makes me realise that how you treat people in every way matters, that communication is just so important, and that it’s important to go into relationships with your eyes open and not to be deceived by superficial things, or even just what your heart longs to be the truth. It can be so easy to intentionally overlook problems and pitfalls just because you really want something to work out, even when you know it’s not good for you.