Saturday, October 20, 2007

i, elizamacbeth

It is my mother's most singular disappointment that I love me a good tragedy. She wonders, as much as I wince to think she believes it reflects upon her, how I ever became so sturm und drang.

But I just went and saw Gone Baby Gone and I feel all the more certain that the tragic is where it's at. Affleck's invented a mesmerizing world: a little Arbus, a little Eastwood, with some Todd Field—and sure, why not?—brutish characters cut so convincingly with real, weary, unlikeable watchability, that we catch the Shakespearean glitter of misery extinguishing its carrier.

The conclusion exceeds its ending and echoes off-time. I need from my movie, my book, my music the sense not only that I've left the work with my sights sharpened, but with the charge of responsibility, the alarm of a life shown for what it is, a series of moral hostage exchanges, of complex challenges to our most provincial convictions. Maybe it's the wabi sabi idea, the simple imperfection in the complex plan, but I like to think of it as a kind of fluid strategic assymetry, or as the most tenuous pause that compromises the whole moral imperative. We have no right answers, ever.

The movie is tricky, not quite big house aping indie, not quite indie finessing the Hollywood flourishes. It's got a humble feel, a real bead. Affleck gets my neighbors out there on the East Coast cold. He gets the working class. He gets boozers, the righteous, the lost. He gets so many small things really right from table tops to smacktalk. Can't complain. Won't complain. Loved it. Break my heart like that any time. I'll even pay you for it.