The Emotional Arithmetic Mega Movie Page went live during the holidays back in 2013. I did not publish a posting about it then, choosing only to mention it briefly in a Byrne-ing News that was full of holiday updates and wallpapers.
This film deserves better.
I respect Emotional Arithmetic. And I enjoy it, too. That is not always my reaction to films, even Gabriel Byrne films. I appreciate each performance in this movie–there is a delicate balance in these portrayals that is often quite breath-taking. Paolo Barzman, the director, created a remarkable adaptation of a very special and beautifully written book. There is drama, to be sure, and tragedy, with generous splashes of ironic humor. The story takes its time, partly because it must slide from past to present to create the context, and partly because it is a tale of emotions, both expressed and hidden, and those layers require a pause now and then.
The screencap above, a snapshot of hilarity in the face of danger, is a counterpoint to this serious study of people who have survived one of the most horrendous events of the 20th century. Humor plays a big role in the movie, but love and healing are the core, and I cannot think of another film that treats the subject matter–survival–with such tenderness and understanding. What happens to people who live through these cataclysmic traumas? Emotional Arithmetic offers several examples of how life might be post-horror, for the survivors themselves, but also for family and friends who did not share the experience. Everyone is different. There is no single path. We are recalled to life in myriad ways, but we are recalled. And there is no insurance that the innocent bystanders will not be overwhelmed in the process…
I often think Gabriel Byrne must have had a most rewarding experience, working on this project. He was in Canada during the fall, a luscious time captured perfectly on screen, and acting with film giants Max Von Sydow and Christopher Plummer. Did he discuss Ingmar Bergman with Max? Did he bring up Plummer’s Tony-award-winning role in Barrymore? And how could he not reminisce with Susan Sarandon about Little Women? We will never know, but it is fun to consider what the set might have been like, in addition to all that gorgeous scenery and those lovely parts that each of them brought to life.
I loved the book by Matt Cohen, too. I can recommend both to you (the film diverges from the book in interesting ways, but only in terms of plot, not tone or meaning) with the highest praise and regard.
I hope you enjoy the Mega Movie Page for Emotional Arithmetic, which brings together trailers, other videos, promotional images, screencaps, interviews, reviews, and more. Many thanks to Angelle for her help in making the page possible!
Note: the original film title is Emotional Arithmetic; the DVD title is Autumn Hearts: A New Beginning.
A note on the title of this posting:
“Recalled To Life” is the title of the first section of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Dr. Manette, who was imprisoned for many years in the Bastille, is finally being released, after many years. Now, he is an old man who has lost his mind. But he recovers. He overcomes the horror of that experience and goes on to live the rest of his life in peace. He was “recalled to life,” after savagery and suffering. Not everyone can answer that call. Some give in to nihilism and despair. But some do return to the living–a theme this film shares with Dickens’ masterpiece of the French Revolution.