By Maria Katafigioti
This film left me with VERY mixed feelings. It was excellently done, with great acting. I thought Emilia Clarke did a much better job here than as Khaleesi (sorry, GOT fans – that character just doesn’t suit her). Although the storyline of the film was based in some pretty simplistic archetypes and Jane Austenesque fantasies, all of these things were executed very well, so the cheesiness crept back into the background. And Clarke’s character was very quirky, fun, engaging, and relatable. She felt very alive, and I liked her right away.
I absolutely HATED the message of the movie. The male character’s obstinate decision to commit suicide via a Swiss suicide company makes you think that the deliberate elimination of anyone who was consider subhuman, including people who were disabled in any way, is quite unreasonable. The same kind of mentality, that someone who is disabled is not capable of having a high quality of life, and therefore it’s understandable if they choose not to live, is leading to the proliferation of euthanasia in many places in the world. Paradoxically mostly in Europe and the US. My point here is not about whether people should legally be allowed to receive assistance in suicide. That’s another matter to be discussed. My point here is about the way the decision to end one’s life is made. And in the movie, it was made in a selfish, cowardly, weak way for the most ridiculous reasons. You think I sound awful and not understanding? Well let me tell you… I reject this way of looking at the value of life. I think that each individual life of both human beings and animals should be placed at a very high value, the ultimate value, no matter what the person (when we talk about human beings) looks like or how imperfect he or she may be. Moral courage should be viewed differently. We should be encouraged to battle our own character flaws and weakness, and of course I know that those are considered the hardest battles to fight.
So to me the character in this film was quite disappointing. And the author limited his own test of his resolve by focusing entirely on what he was possibly getting out of his experience with the woman who was there to make him feel better about himself. Instead of embracing this life’s gift that was a pure, innocent, loving girl who accepted him for who he was at the moment, he focused entirely on physical endeavors of his past life. Instead of showing the growth of someone who was able to refocus on making the most of what he had and building on it, you had someone who even at his happiest could only think about the negative. And there was no real attempt to show meaning beyond focusing on your own narrow experience, no attempt to show that he could be helpful to other people, to GIVE others during each moment of life, to inspire and motivate others to live, not by dying and giving away money (which is not all that hard, since he did not even have to take his own life!), but by living and struggling and searching for and finding meaning in the precious time he had with the people who loved him and whose lives he could have improved by living so much more than by exiting this world.
On the other hand, the important point that I can relate to is that no matter how much you love another person and are ready to do for him, to be changed by him, and to grow for him, that may not guarantee reciprocity or the fact that the person will change in any way. I have no idea what I would have done if I had been in the place of the girl; but in real life, I reject that the society accepts such defeatist attitude from someone who is capable of doing much good in life as something normal, acceptable, and something to be helped with. It should be doing everything possible to instill life-affirming attitudes and helping people not only improve the quality of their own lives, but bringing them to see what is possible, rather than what is not.
This movie reflects the failures of ours society in lapsing into relativistic indifference, where people can do whatever they want, not because they are creatures with free will, but because no one actually cares.
*** rant over ***