*** CAUTION PLOT SPOILERS ***
Yesterday afternoon I took myself off to watch the film 'Song for Marion' the latest in the growing genre of feel good movies about ordinary people in their latter years. The critics have been quite scathing, calling it predictable (do they not understand 'feel good'?) but I found it moving, tender and actually quite honest in its portrayal of a dying woman, her crusty husband and dysfunctional family.
At the start of the film, Marion is told her cancer has returned and is now terminal; the oncologist tells her to go home and eat "chips and ice cream, as much as you want". Her life line is the OAPz, the community choir she sings with. The first half (or so it felt) of the film deals with her final weeks and her death. Having walked alongside a few dying people, I felt this was authentically and beautifully portrayed. A moment of pure poetry and beauty is just after she has died and the son is seen showing out the certifying doctor. The camera focuses on the bedroom door and a long, low howl of despair is heard as Arthur's reserve crumbles. We do not see him - this is a private, implied moment - and the more powerful for it.
Yes, theareafter the plot is predictable, Arthur gives in and joins the choir, who, after some comedic exploits, win third prize in a choir competition, and by the final credits the family has been reconciled. Yet there is something important here - something that we all need, even if we cannot articulate it... the desire, the hope, that, in the end, all will be well.
I'm a tough old cookie, crying is not something I do very often, and then not very much, but I shed quite a few tears watching this film - enough for them to drip off my chin! Perhaps a film where one of the characters dies of secondary cancer is a funny thing to watch on a day you told you are still NED; and perhaps it's a very appropriate one, since there 'but of the grace of God' go any of us.
Professionally, I have conducted funerals for too many families where unresolved tensions have been self evident... it would be good to think that this little film just might prompt one or two people to mend a few fences whilst there is yet time.
And in the end...all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.
I guess the critics probably wouldn't rate Teresa of Avila (or T S Elliott) either?