Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It may be an odd life, but it's ours: Why you MUST see The Odd Life of Timothy Green

They stood in the kitchen arguing about the child and What To Do. A couple, loving and supportive of each other, rarely fighting, but now, in barely suppressed yells, they had a serious go at one another's parenting choices.

The child in question was upstairs (or so they thought) and he was their miracle. The longed for, finally gotten child. Exactly what they had always wished for.

Except what they were learning is that even when you get exactly what you wish for, it doesn't mean things turn out how you want. Or thought you wanted.

When the child appeared in the doorway and shouted, "Stop fighting!" They stopped. But they had been winding down anyway, realizing that they were arguing with fate or circumstance or something like it rather than each other.

The couple is Jim and Cindy Green, and the child is Timothy Green. They are the lead characters in the new movie, releasing today, The Odd Life of Timothy Green.

The unbearable lightness of being a parent: 
thrilled pride, 
jangling nerves. 
Absolute faith. 
Then absolute panic.
Then joy.
And so on.

And I loved that scene. I loved it because it was harsh, imperfect and real. I loved that scene like I loved the entire movie because the movie -- despite the metaphorical and implausible plot of a child growing in a garden under a cabbage leaf -- and its story and characters were more real than any movie I've seen in a long, long time.

Magical realism. In its ideal form.

You've likely seen the trailers and advertisements for this film. If you have, you get the start of it. A childless couple at the end of their infertility road decides to have a big sendoff to the idea of "their kid." They write down every trait they wish their kid would have. They bury it in their vegetable patch. Then, miraculously, that exact child appears, and he is even named Timothy, the only boy name on their list.

I bet you think that next it is one big Disney happily ever after trip. You'd be so, so wrong.

What's next is one big unexpected, yet real trip through so many emotions, situations, and family dynamics that any type of person will find at least one Moment in this movie. I found a lot.

It looks very pretty, but it's complicated.

The movie delivered one of the truest, most honest and heartfelt sense of infertility, parenthood, marriage, leftover childhood baggage, dysfunctional social dynamics, job and financial worries, marital strife, and...well, the human condition that I absolutely fell in love with it. I fell in love with The Odd Life of Timothy Green. The story it told. Why we keep our heads up. Why we keep going in the face of adversity. How we find things we lost, like ourselves. How nothing is ever perfect, how nobody is ever perfect, but how we find beauty and merit in them anyway. Sometimes. Sometimes? We just don't.

Maybe it's just the right movie in the right moment for me. But I honestly think it is technically an excellent film:

  • the cinematography is gorgeous and creates the scene as the other character in the movie
  • it's brilliantly cast by actors who are genuine and talented
  • the plot is beautifully done with just enough heartwarming to balance out the challenges
  • it doesn't hold your hand nor does it patronize you, especially not by smoothing out all the rough edges until you get a totally flat film
  • there is no conniving or easy stereotypes, yet it remains sightly unpredictable in a realistic way
  • it's tight and triple fudge thick in spots so that 20 seconds gives you a full, rich story without breaking the plot and going in to all this background
  • it never felt preachy or morality tale, instead, it felt as if it reflected back to us who we are, as people, without judgment or agenda; in fact, it almost felt like this sort of unconditional love or acceptance

There are things you will do for your child, family, loved ones...that you'd never do otherwise.
Even if, sometimes, you enter it knowing...just's not going to go how you planned.
Sometimes that's even better.

I don't want to delve too deep or tell you how you ought to think of this movie. I definitely don't want to tell you what happens. Let the story unfold for you on its own, and I wish you to find in it what you want.

I will say, simply, that I loved this movie. And two days later, I still do. I want to see it again.

My husband also loved it, as did my kids (10 and 7). They agree with me that it was beautiful and ugly and real and sad and happy and hard and worthy. They agree you should go see it.


Amanda said...

I'll admit, I've been very curious about this one. You've tipped me into the realm of wanting to go and see it now.

Julie Pippert said...

Amanda, I hope you do get the chance to see it and more than that, I hope you enjoy it! I admit I feared it would be some "give me a shot of insulin" movie that was all "girlie squeal" eww small bump in the road oh but now this magical thing happened and it's all PERFECT YIPPEE! But it was so much more complicated and grounded than that. That said, it was a comfortable watch -- not some hard, painful watch.