In the USA, this week is a time for gathering with family and friends, eating too much home-made food, watching football (American football, that is!), arguing about politics, and–most of all–giving thanks.
One thing Byrneholics have for which to be very thankful is a plateful of new Gabriel Byrne projects that are now complete and headed our way in the coming year: War of the Worlds, ZeroZeroZero, Lost Girls, and Death of a Ladies’ Man! We can’t wait to see our favorite Irishman headlining these intriguing stories.
In the meantime, though, you might find a quiet moment this week to enjoy something from the past:
Emotional Arithmetic is my favorite film for autumn.
Based on the lyrical book by much-loved Canadian writer Matt Cohen, with a formidable cast and an ethereal Canadian setting, the film tells harsh tales of the past and offers hope for the future.
I can’t describe it any better than the Montreal Gazette did, when the film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2007:
The sad, autumnal melodrama Emotional Arithmetic begins in the lush countryside of the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Leaves are turning red and gold. The lake is calm. A camera swoops across an idyllic farm, where a table has been set under a tree. We stand behind Gabriel Byrne, staring out at the water. We walk behind Max von Sydow touring a barn, shouting Germanic imprecations at the cattle. We see Susan Sarandon open a box, take out a button, and stare at herself in the mirror. The music is dolorous. We see Christopher Plummer, standing in his bedroom and staring out the window. “Storm coming,” he says to no one in particular. “Not that anyone listens.”
It’s a sequence that allows director Paolo Barzman to give us the mood — sad, autumnal and obsessed with the middle distance, not to mention the distant past — of a story that has become a recurring theme of Canadian art. Emotional Arithmetic closed the recent Toronto film festival, and like Fugitive Pieces, the film that opened it, it is based on a Canadian novel about the redemption, healing and damage of the Holocaust, an event that comes to our shores in the guise of damaged people and loneliness.
Now that sounds much more melancholy than the film turns out to be, in my opinion–there are scenes of laughter and warmth that beautifully balance the drama. But you get the idea: autumn as a season of change, of turning, of the slow dance into the death of winter. Beautiful, fiery in color, chilly in demeanor, a harbinger–we warm ourselves at the fire and in the presence of others in preparation for the cold blast that is to come.
And yet autumn is also a time of renewal and redemption, as the film contends.
But we must choose to make it so.
Enjoy the Mega Movie Page for Emotional Arithmetic and watch the film if you can. I always find it heartening and warming and a perfect way to celebrate Thanksgiving, family and friends, and the spirit of autumn. heart