Friday, August 8, 2008

Elsa & Fred

One of my favorite things about Seattle is the number of independent movie theaters at my disposal. The other day I saw Elsa & Fred at one of these theaters, mainly because it was touted as showing "For One Week Only!" which caught my attention and implied that it must be at least semi-decent. Hooray for the power of suggestion!

Elsa and Fred are elderly widows, living next door to each other in Spain. When Fred moves in Elsa wastes no time praying on his emotions and finagling her way out of paying for the damage she did backing into his daughters car. The film is in Spanish but that is quickly forgotten once you see Elsa threaten a young boy by slicing her throat with her hand. The story is a little jagged in places, jumping between incongruent scenes, but you're so won over with the characters each finding new meaning in their lives that it's easy to overlook.

This is a common theme I've been running into more and more, the idea of elderly people feeling useless, and finding something that gives them a purpose again. It was the central idea of Young @ Heart, (AMAZING btw) and a novel my book club read (The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love.) In this movie it's a much more subtle message (and you know how I love subtlety) and could easily be interpreted for a younger audience as the importance of living life while you've got it. Even though I was the youngest person in the audience by an easy 30 years, it was still an emotional and inspiring experience.

As coincidence would have it, I read a review of this movie by Roger Ebert before I'd ever heard of it, and didn't realize the reference until midway through seeing the movie. I don't really know what to say other than it's incredibly sweet and funny and you should read Ebert's review. I don't think he liked it as much as I did, but I just can't resist old people falling in love and playing in fountains.

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