A Film’s Changing Messages

Irina Pino                                                                                                                              

HAVANA TIMES — I recently saw Oliver Dahan’s 2003 film My Own Love Song (starring Renee Zellweger, Forest Whitaker and Maedline Zima) for the fifth time.

As soon as the credits start (to Bob Dylan’s Forgotten Heart), I begin to feel that I am watching something that will help me understand human nature.

I make out signs in the manner in which the story is told, revealing well-developed and believable characters that speak of matters anyone could identify with.

A disabled woman who is estranged from her son, a man with mental challenges that has been left without a family, a young woman abandoned by her partner – all of these characters are looking for a path that will help them make up for their losses, that will somehow alleviate their loneliness. They are willing to share what little they have. Friendship plays an essential role here, creating a kind of circle that unites them.

Together, they embark on a picturesque journey through the southern United States. The journey has both realistic and surreal moments. Sometimes, the message is clear. At others, we are invited to read between the lines. All sudden reversals in the paths we take presuppose a risk: to find or to lose sight of the road we wish to follow.

They meet good people. They also run into swindlers, suffering and meeting with disillusionment. Nevertheless, they continue on their journey, as though impelled towards the unknown.

I think about the events of their journey, compare them to my own experiences, and think about the similarities with my own life, where I have often stumbled, met with frustration in my profession, have been abandoned by loved ones, idols have fallen, relatives have parted or died, where I have shouldered heavy burdens and kept a stiff upper lip. Creative work is a kind of destiny: working with words tends to occupy an important place in our lives. The simple becomes extraordinary.

I like these kinds of films, which show us the bright and dark side of people. A film’s expressive resources are like the pages of a book, full of details and surprises. The soundtrack, featuring Dylan’s music, serves as a kind of poetic hook.

When I finish watching it, I put it back in its case carefully. I place it next to other films I treasure. I am absolutely confident that, shortly, I will enjoy it once again.