Tuesday, April 20, 2010

DeUsynlige (Troubled Water)

I almost hesitate to write a review of this movie.  On the one hand, I know a movie glutton's shallow comments can't do it justice; on the other hand, I want to say "Watch this movie!" without giving anything away.  It's not like there's some big surprise at the end, a la The Sixth Sense, it's just that the emotional punch might be lessened if you're waiting for it.  No, that's not even right.  It's not an emotional punch, but it is an emotional journey.

I should tell you this is a Norwegian film, so if you don't like watching a movie with subtitles, you'll be disappointed, but you'll be missing out.  Jan Thomas made a terrible decision as a young man that resulted in the death of a child.  After serving his time, he landed a job as a church organist.  (He had a lot of time to practice behind bars!)  By chance, the child's mom, a teacher in town, recognizes him at the church, and becomes obsessed with exposing his crime.
So we get to know the family of the child who died, and share in their grief.  And we get to know Jan, who grieves in a different way, but with whom we can sympathize.  How many times might you have been close to losing your own child through some random act or event?  How many times as an unthinking teen (or careless adult) could you have caused the death of a child?  Think about those stories we hear every year: a toddler drowning in the backyard pool, a child killed by the accidental discharge of a gun, a child run over in the driveway by a car driven by a family member.  The list goes on.  Troubled Water put me in both of those places, drawing me into the emotions of both sides.

Could you ever forgive your child's killer?  Malicious, careless, or accidental, would you ever be able to forgive the responsible person?  Could you ever forgive yourself if you were responsible for a child's death?   The child's mother struggles with forgiveness.  Jan tries to move on and rebuild his life.  He and the church's pastor fall in love (initially only the church administrator is aware of Jan's past).  But the arrival of the child's mother on the scene changes all that.

It is fitting that Jan finds refuge in a church.  (By the way, the organ music in the movie is great.)  Here he gains a sense of forgiveness.  I thought of refuge cities in the Old Testament, where someone who had accidentally killed another could find safety from vengeful family members.  Although at first he expresses skepticism and even disbelief, he eventually takes communion.  I interpreted that moment as his acceptance of God's forgiveness and a step toward forgiving himself.

(The religious message of the movie was powerful, with one caveat.  The church is a place of forgiveness and fresh beginnings, as evidenced by the fact that the pastor has a child, although she never married.  She and Jan talk about that, but then as their relationship develops, they hop in the sack!  OK, I can see the pastor moving on after unwise decisions as a college student, and I'm all for a God of second chances, but I would expect that she might have a bit higher standard of sexual morality after years in the pulpit.  Just a thought.)

Don't waste your time with the next Hollywood blockbuster you're planning to rent.  Rent this instead.

Bottom line, 3 1/2 stars.

By the way, this is another movie from Film Movement.  I'm pretty impressed with the selections I've seen of theirs.

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