My DVR is one of my most appreciated gizmos. Every week or two I surf through listings on the movie channels I subscribe and pick out a few films showing in the future and record a few; saved for when I can get around to them. Frequently, my searching brings me across a film I have never heard of that catches my attention due to the plot description, the subject matter, actors and actresses or some combination of these factors.
“Evening” is just such a movie. Critics and most viewers panned the film and I can understand why. One really has to have a very still mind and be open to the message contained within it. This is NOT a movie intended to idly entertain those who view it. One has to be able to relate personally in some manner to enjoy…actually ‘enjoy’ is the wrong word.. to appreciate the message of the movie.
Actress Vanessa Redgrave, at seventy years old, delivers an amazing (at least to me!) performance of a woman near death remembering bits and pieces of her romantic past and dealing with the emotional present of her daughters. As her character lays dying, she relives and is moved to convey to her daughters, the defining moments in her life 50+ years prior.
The full cast is impressive and makes the movie all the more believable. Claire Danes, Natasha Richardson, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Barry Bostwick, Toni Collette and more contribute to making the story feel “real” to me. Far from being just a romantic love story, what is told on screen is a bit too gritty and realistic to be even close to a “chick flick”. Instead it is a moving piece about life and a thinker’s movie that leaves one with a message. What I got from it is: There are no mistakes; there is only life. No matter whether we do good or bad or what kind of choices are made, it is still life. And life is never a mistake.
For my way of thinking Goldie Hawn said something akin to the message of “Evening”: The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud — the obstacles of life and its suffering. … The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. … Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death.
A poem by Naomi Shihab Nye called “Kindness” also contains a similar message in these words I have selected from it to include here:
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Ultimately seeing the film “Evening”, reading Goldie Hawn’s quote once again and letting Nye’s words sink in mentally all bring me back to the same place: there are no mistakes, there is only life. Everything that happens, good, bad or indifferent” is “my life” and to be embraced with gratitude.
By loving the best and joyous along with most painful and difficult is how I have found a measure of peace, contentment and ease for living my days. Far from some mystic know it all who lives in constant bliss, I am just a man doing the best he can who is grateful for his life and all that is within it! As best I possibly can I endeavor to do what the character Buddy in “Evening” says, Shut up and dance.
The gem cannot be polished without friction,
nor man be perfected without trials.