AUSTRALIAN CINEMA (H231)
ASSIGNMENT 2 - Look Both Ways (2005)
Critical review and bibliography
Part 1: Film Information of Look both ways
“Disaster is Everywhere”
Directed by Sarah Watt
1. Cast and credits:
Director- Sarah watt
William McInnes - Nick
Justine Clarke - Meryl
Anthony Hayes - Andy
Lisa Flanagan - Anna
Andrew S. Gilbert - Phil
Daniela Farinacci - Julia
Sacha Horler - Linda
Maggie Dence - Joan
Edwin Hodgeman - Jim
Andreas Sobik - Train Driver
Toivo Lember - Sound/Sound Designer
Denise Haratzis - Editor
Edie Kurzer - Costume Designer
Andrew Myer - Executive Producer
Amanda Brown - Composer (Music Score)
Sarah Watt - Screenwriter, Director
Rita Zanchetta - Production Designer
Chris Odgers - First Assistant Director
Angela Heesom - Casting
Simon McCutcheon - Art Director
Bridget Ikin - Producer
Ray Argall - Cinematographer
Amanda Brown-Original music
2. Theatrical release dates
April 14th 2006 NY and LA
Australian release dates:
March 3rd 2005 Adelaide film festival
July 30th 2005 Melbourne international film festival
August 6th 2005 Brisbane film festival
September 13th 2005 in Canada
September 21rst Spain 2005
February 19th 2006 Thailand at the Bangkok International Film Festival
3. Box office figures
Its gross box office figure in February of 2006 reached AUD 2,832,616.00
4. Interviews: (Online)
1. "Interview with Wife and Filmmaker Sarah Watt." Australian Story. 20 June 2005. ABC. 7 Apr. 2005 <http://www.abc.net.au/austory/content/2005/s1393856.htm>.
2. "At the Movies Toasts Award Winners." At the Movies. IF, AFI and FCCA. 7 Apr. 2005 <http://www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s1514850.htm>.
3. Pomeranz, Margaret. "LOOK BOTH WAYS Interviews." 2006. 7 Apr. 2005 <http://www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s1433721.htm>.
4. Dawson, Jonathan. "Look Both Ways: Interview with Sarah Watt and Andrew Gilbert." Senses of Cinema. 2005. 7 Apr. 2005 <http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/05/37/look_both_ways.html>.
5. Book, newspaper reviews, critical essays in journals, discussions in books:
1. Dargis, Manohla. "Film Review." New York Times. 2006. 7 Apr. 2005 <http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=323128>.
2. "Cinema Culture." METRO MAGAZINE #148 28 Feb. 2006: 50-53.
3. Shager, Nick “look both ways“. Slant magazine. 2006. 11 Apr. 2006. <http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/film_review.asp?ID=2060>.
6. Webpage: Reviews
This films online presence was vast, having its own well designed web page, as well as a presence on any film related webpage or a film related blog. It seems to have a wide range in Australia as far as being seen, although elsewhere (in the world) there wasn’t that much mention of it. Most of the information was located on the internet, also old magazine/newspaper articles that had been put on the web having to do with this films review were easily found.
1. "Look Both Ways Reviews." Look Both Ways. 7 Apr. 2005 <http://www.lookbothways.com.au/main.html>.
2. Stratton, David. "Look Both Ways." At the Movies. 2006. 7 Apr. 2005 <http://www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s1433709.htm>.
3. Kuipers, Richard. "Look Both Ways." 22 Feb. 2005. 7 Apr. 2005 <http://www.lookbothways.com.au/files/variety.pdf>.
4. Jary, Marta. "Film Reviews: Look Both Ways." Film Ink. 7 Apr. 2005 <http://www.filmink.com.au/reviews/default.asp?movie_id=3595>.
5. "Look Both Ways." ABC Reviews. 2005. <http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/review/film/s1439690.htm>.
6. Kernebone, Fenella. "The Movie Show Cinema Review Look Both Ways." SBS. 7 Apr. 2005 <http://www20.sbs.com.au/movieshow/index.php?action=review&id=1725>.
7. Hatherley, Frank. "Look Both Ways." 02 Mar. 2005. 7 Apr. 2005 <http://www.lookbothways.com.au/files/screen_international.pdf>.
8. Pomeranz, Margaret. "Australian Story." ABC. 17 June 2005. 7 Apr. 2005 <http://www.abc.net.au/austory/content/2005/s1394589.htm>.
9. Thompson, Peter. "Nine MSN Film Reviews: LOOK BOTH WAYS." Ninemsn.Com. 21 Aug. 2005. 7 Apr. 2005 <http://sunday.ninemsn.com.au/sunday/film_reviews/article_1850.asp>.
10. Bond, Gavin. "LOOK BOTH WAYS." INFILM Australia. 2005. 7 Apr. 2005 <http://www.infilm.com.au/reviews/lookbothways.htm>.
11. Pattison, Gaye. “Look both ways at William.” ABC.16 August 2005. 7Apr. 2005
12. “WITASWAN features Australian Film “Look Both Ways in 2006 program.” Studentfilmmakers. March 12 2006. April 7 2006. <http://www.studentfilmmakers.com/news/article_1063.shtml>.
13. Hind, Richard. “Look both ways“ August 26 2005. April 9 2006. <http://www.abc.net.au/darwin/stories/s1446566.htm>.
Prior work of director, cinematographer, producer, lead actors:
1. Sarah Watt: director: directed over 18 oz films. Made a film called local dive, in which the lead character dreams up things under water that appear as ink blots turning into coral (seem familiar?)
2. William McInnes: actor: in many films and TV series/episodes.
3. Bridget Ikin producer: produced over 13 oz films
4. Ray Argall:cinematographer: over 13 oz films
5. Justine Clark: actor: born in 71, has done a handful of films, but mostly TV episodes. Was in mad max 3, among other films.
Plot summary: This film consists of many sub plots attached to the story of the main two characters. Somewhat similar to love actually everyone seems to have a connection to at least one other character in the story, physically and/or emotionally. The story mostly deals with the lead character, Nick dealing with cancer, having just been told the disease has invaded his body. Almost simultaneously there is a train accident, this accident brings in more of the main and secondary characters, Meryl (Justine Clark) who is a witness to the deadly accident (she is also Nick‘s future lover), as well as the trains victim’s wife and dog, Nick’s fellow reporter friend Andy (Anthony Hayes), and one very depressed bus driver (Andreas Sobik). They all play off each other during the course of the film developing relations between themselves that are oddly interconnected with each other.
Meeting Meryl, Nick falls for her and they have a whirlwind of a relationship, while Andy finds out a past girlfriend is pregnant; Nicks boss has a reality check about life, quits smoking and buys his daughter the cricket bat she has wanted for ages; throughout the film we see the bus driver building up the courage to finally speak to the wife of the man killed by his train. We also find out whether or not Nick’s cancer will get the better of him, and if Meryl can find sanctity from her violent watercolor visions, which are a huge part of her everyday life. For instance before crossing a road she has an animated vision of herself getting hit by a car as it passes by, blood spurting in all directions. Similarly Nick also has montages of cancer which are more like slides of microscopic medical images of cancer spreading through the bloodstreams of people, both highly unusual and disturbing thought processes.
As the film progresses the characters end up solving their problems, and overall they end up pretty happy. By using their relationships with the other characters to work out their personal problems, the plot develops intelligently with the characters issues colliding into each other.
Critique: There have been some critical eyes on this film since its release. Most things said of the film are praise, but I did manage to find one point of view that disagreed with one aspect of the film. The animation was commented on by a couple critics as follows “The one element of the film that slightly bothered me was the animation; Meryl and Nick imagine all kinds of disasters, and they're visualized in animated form; this is an unnecessary device, which the film really doesn't need.”(Stratton). Another reviewer negatively mentioned the “hand-drawn daydreams, which, after their third appearance, begin to amount to little more than a distracting affectation intended to quirkify the morose action” (Schager). Some of the other critiques I read through enjoyed these morbid cartoons, and felt they added comic relief and an artistic point of view to the film, “Her audacious and innovative use of self-generated animation (which is both comical and devastating) to link the stories is highly effective and certainly sets it apart from other films.” (Bond). There was also praise for how they were edited into the live shots, and how congruently they went together. As far as being unnecessary I would disagree, I felt that the art increased the sense of hilarity to the everyday dilemmas and worries the everyday characters went through. I found the use of the shark particularly interesting since so many people fear them, though not usually while on land, as Meryl does.
An important aspect of this films production was how Watt became ironically sick with cancer during its post production. Her husband, also Nick in the film, William McInnes speaks of his wife: “She had to undergo treatment for breast cancer as well as finish the film. I think anyone who knows anything about doing post production on films knows it is the most hectic and probably the most strife ridden time of film production. Really, I had never been so proud of her. She would be having chemotherapy then flying off to Adelaide to do the mix. Everyone who had anything to do with her was blown away by her commitment and courage. It is a nasty irony that that has happened but it is life." (Pattison). I can only imagine this ordeal made the production process even more special and important to Watts, since she could now understand her script that much more.
I found myself comparing this film to the films Lantana and Love actually which could also be deemed Ensemble dramas, with the same wide array of characters and wide variety issues they have to face. (The critique Bond also made the connection with Lantana). The film Love actually involved an almost entirely British cast of characters who paths intersect in the most random ways and for the most bizarre reasons, very much like . For instance on the set of a porn shoot two of characters meet, turns out the guy video taping is friends with this other guy who catered a wedding for a couple who’s best friend owns an art gallery where another guy held a work benefit and so and so on. Also in Love actually there were roughly 6 relationships we got to follow, either between lovers, families or friends. Look both ways was set up the same way, using peoples connections as seg-ways to take the audience from one relationship to the next. Also in Love actually they went through similar trials and tribulations like a newly single parent raising a son, a husband having an affair, and a gay man on the verge of coming out. This movie was a little more light and fluffy, but not all of the couples ended up happily ever after, which is a popular Australian trait I see often in their films. Lantana shared this similar set up, but with a mystery suspense thrill added to it. All the relationships were connected to one another, and also created suspense and gave the audience clues to unsolving the mystery. (Lantana also cast the woman who played the devastated wife in Look both ways, as the Hispanic wife/neighbor). In lantana they also used a sense of reality, so much that at points it felt like a film based on true events. They cast normal (and a little better looking) people that had to deal with real world situations, only this time no one had cancer, but the plot still had several sad endings. Out of them all Lantana probably had the most happiness, which is surprising, since the film has such a tragic twist.
The growing epidemic of cancer makes this film able to hit home with more people, not only in Australia but everywhere. The need to see and relate to someone who is going through the disease is a point of interest in today’s world, which could prove positive for this film with Australian and global movie markets. As far as the position of Australian film and market horizons this film shows that Australian film could be making and uprise. The films that are produced here are slowly getting recognition for their originality and uniquely Australian qualities, and similarities are being found between their films and other very successful films around the world.
In this film I noticed the use of ordinary looking people, and ordinary looking sets. “Ordinary” was definitely an important part to the story, I feel Watts really wanted to keep the sense of everyday life prevalent for the audience to relate too. The people looked just like people you would see everyday on the street, which helped create that Australian movie vibe of the everyday world. Another Australian aspect I noticed was the sense of humor, it was sort of dark and sarcastic, as it is in many Australian films. The scene where nick has decided to take a day off to deal with the cancer he’s just found out he has, and at work Andy tells Nick: “oh great, cuz a guy just went under a train near your place” wanting him to photograph the accident, and walks off. It seems in Australian cinema there is no sugar coating, people always just speak what they think, and the plot seems to have hard hitting topics as well as challenging things happening to its characters. Down under they are certainly not afraid to deal with tuff topics, like cancer, abortion and death in this film imparticluar. Mate ship is also a huge player in Ozzie films, bonds between characters are usually the most important part to the story. You can see the mateship between Nick and his boss, and even between Nick and annoying Andy. As for the girls, there is also a mateship between Anna and her flat mates. Meryl and Elise also demonstrated their strong mate ship by the way she drags Meryl to the pool against her will, because she knows Meryl will feel better having exercised, it’s a girl thing. Australian films are also known for their quirkiness, which this film is filled with. The animations especially are somewhat bizarre, but comical. The characters senses of humor are also quirky, especially Meryl who almost seems like a shut in and has little to do with people outside of her friend circle. In a very important scene where Nick is trying to let go of Meryl she feels angry for being dumped by him after such a wonderful three days. She proceeds to tell him off and when he finally gets in that he has cancer she looks at him quizzically and bolts off screen like a confused child. Also the entire lot of animations are some of the quirkiest things I’ve ever scene, orcas washing up onto a beach eating people, and trains cars and falling overpasses sending people to a gory and bloody death. One especially funny bit was when she was fantasizing about having children and how they all had serious diseases or wore and eye patch, it just stood for how worrisome it is to have kids. I also thought her physical artwork that she had on her walls was beautiful, and I noticed one piece of art she did was beautiful until she drew a little drowning figure in it with circling sharks. I also found Nick could really see into those paintings of her inside the shark, at first she tried to hide them, but once he discovered them you saw a familiarity in his face when he looked at them as if he could relate to them.
I felt there was an extremely deep similarity between Nicks montages and Meryl’s animated visions. They were both about death and were both how they perceived death as being. And the fact that Meryl never say him in her fantasies and how nick never saw Meryl in his was an early eluding to the budding relationship. Another similarity I noticed was how each character had an experience with riding the train. Symbolically it united them even further, as people who were all going through the hardest times of their lives. The train could almost be representative of how numb they all were before the events occurred in their lives, since when we ride trains we zone out and stare into nothingness, as the world whizzes by us.
Timing, and taking things for granted, also played a key role in everyone’s life during this film. If Meryl hadn’t tripped at that moment and fell in the street right when the car swerved out of the way of a truck she would have become road kill. If Nick hadn’t found he had cancer at that check up then he may have died, if the husband playing with the dog hadn’t thrown the ball for the dog and got stuck on the track the moment the train rounded the corner he wouldn’t have died. Their lives seemed to rely on luck and timing quite a bit, just as ours do, it creates another a further sense of reality in the film. Another aspect of timing was when it rained all of the characters were affected by it at the same moment, unknown to each other. When the dramatic rainfall occurred I noticed every single one of the characters was touched by it emotionally. For example the wife of the deceased man was out on the porch with her dog thinking of her husband, the bus driver was getting ready to go apologize to her and free his mind of guilt, and Andy was outside Anna’s window to give a vow of commitment during the same rainfall.
The film strung all the characters along in a easy-to-understand way. The editing and plot development gave the audience enough time to connect the dots between characters and their relation to other characters. I wasn’t once confused at who knew who or what was going on at the time. I also enjoyed the acting, having not been over done or tacky. Also the emotional bits seemed accurate and real which helped me feel for the characters that much more, like the man who died saving his dog, that just tugs at ones heart strings. Also that moment when Meryl falls and almost becomes road kill like something out of her sketched fantasies which turned out to be quite a emotional moment for her, and a suspenseful one for the audience. Over all this Australian film opened my eyes to a new way of writing and acting. Unlike ordinary American films this ones differences makes it unique and puts itself in the playing field with the Hollywood blockbusters that are becoming overdone and mass produced to bored audiences across the globe, I feel confident by saying these smaller films will soon be making an up rise.
Detailed plot summary:
Opening with a close up of a bouquet of flowers, followed by slow pans of sympathetic greeting cards, our first view is a somewhat depressing one. Also the news is on in the background talking of a train crash with a death toll of 20, possibly meant to foreshadow events to come. This scene is supposed to have been Meryl’s home, the main character, who is traveling by train back to her own home after her fathers funeral. The next scene is of her on the bus looking pensively out the window, when suddenly she has a fantasy; The scene changes from live action to animation to show her imaginary thought process, as the train barrels into a mountain tunnel smashing into the wall on its way in. You see, she sees death a lot, it doesn’t bother her that much but it is an abnormal trait and that worries her. As the bus rolls past we see a young husband and wife with their dog saying farewell to each other for the day, also possibly foreshadowing something to come. Eventually getting off the train we see Meryl struggling with a rickety suitcase and fishing pole, possibly her fathers, as she walks beneath the train overpass where she has another vision. Animated once again, we see the train falling off the track above and crashing down onto her, similar to the news story concerning the train from earlier, and then as she crosses the road we see another animated vision of her violently getting struck by a oncoming car. She shakes the visions off as annoyances and continues onward. Passing where the couple was earlier she looks across a field of train tracks to see the man playing catch with the dog, which is a definite foreshadowing of what is about to happen. As she watches them play catch she gets yet another animated vision of the man running over to her and strangling her, which she dismisses as abruptly as it came and smiles as the dog runs off.
We then switch characters for a bit. The camera retracts from a x-ray and lands on Nick, who’s just discovering he has cancer in various parts of his body. As he leaves the office to head back to work we get a glimpse of what is going on in his head, with a montage of images and noises from his life. Shots of him as a child, his parents, and the things he had done up until now. We then head to his work where he tells his boss how sick he is, and he tells him to go home for the day, and nick agrees. We can see the kind heartedness taking hold of the boss and can see he’s a nice guy. On Nicks way out his fellow reporter friend Andy comes up to him to talk. Nick lies about how he is and tells him he’s going home for the day, Andy replies that that’s great because a man went under a train just now and its on his way, so he drags nick along to photograph the incident, this all showing how insensitive Andy is.
Now at the scene of the crime we find Meryl getting interviewed as a witness, her having seen the man(from before) try to save his dog and getting run over by the train. Andy slips right into the cops conversation with her, already taking notes, and Nick snaps a shot of her as well as the scene and the distraught bus driver. Then Julia enters the scene, her being the wife of the deceased and co owner of the dog. Nick snaps shots of her, until he realizes the cops are telling her husband is dead, we see in his face he feels truly sorry and decides to leave for home. Meryl is walking the same way and they have their first conversation, about death of course. She makes a statement along the lines that maybe death happens for a reason, then has a animated vision of her saying that to two black children from a third world country, and rolls her eyes regretting what she said. Meryl talks of her fathers death with not realizing how much this hits home with Nick, but they have good chemistry and can tell this may go somewhere. We can see how intricate the plotline is now having seen how many people we caught Glimpses of earlier have relationships or will have relationships with the other people we’ve been introduced to.
Now at Andy’s house we meet a past girlfriend, Anna, who is now unwantedly pregnant. We see his insensitive side once again as he is rude and dismissive towards her, which eventually drives her out.
Back at Meryl’s flat we see her artistic lifestyle, and her artistic ability in all the art work hanging on the walls and strewn about he floor. She also has a fish tank filled with more rubber figurines of sea life than of actual fish, which lets the audience see her imaginatively playful side. We see her painting as she talks on phone, showing how talented she is and how careless about her art she is at the moment. While on the phone she talks to her Elise, her friend, about how she doesn’t like her job, how she is alone, and her dad dying. A very depressing conversation which takes over her painting, as she draws herself into it. It of course becomes a vision and turns into an animated scene of her thrashing in the stormy sea with sharks ready to rip her apart.
Back at nicks place, he goes through some of his photos from that day and other trips, we get to see how talented he is and see which photo he ends up sending to his boss for the train article. It happens to be a image of the wife when she realized what had happened. Then a slow song, part of the soundtrack comes on while he searches cancer on the internet. The transition to the next scene is, appropriately, the paper being printed, stacked and delivered.
The first victim to see the article is the bus driver. His son strolls in, picking up the paper on the way, from a night out, and sneaks into house. Walking passed dad who is stunned into silence from the accident still, and dropping the paper on the table for him as he walks by into the kitchen. We hear a bang as the dad hit’s the table and starts to cry having seen the image on the paper. He feels guilty about the accident, blaming himself for the mans death.
Next we are at home with Nicks boss and his young family. He kisses his wife and from her expression its something he doesn’t do often, but with all that’s been going on lately he has regained a love for life and for his family. He gets a call at home from Andy who is miffed that the picture they chose to put on his article wasn’t the right sort of picture, because he wanted to the accident to seem like a suicide, and he felt the picture ruined his version of the story. The boss replies to him, that it isn’t about him, secretly we know he put the picture there because sickly Nick took it.
A cancer montage zips by with images of microscopic cancer cells invading a blood stream, mixed in with a shot of Nick asleep amidst a sea of cancer print outs and diagrams from the internet. This is followed by a very real and emotional scene in Nicks shower as he cleans himself, feeling the lumps of the cancer, which creeps him out so much he has to stop showering. Once out of the shower we see what he is thinking as a montage of images of him drinking, talking on cell phone, visiting hazardous waste cites for his job, and doing other things that are thought to cause cancer. Followed by this montage, we see nicks first flashback of his father. He recalls his fathers bout with cancer which began as a quick operation and turned fatal in the months to come, which seems to make him that much more afraid of the disease.
Back at Meryl’s we see her reading the front page as well, symbolic of her emotions she has another animated vision, this time the room implodes and she falls into a hole on the floor, huddling in the dark space. Finding herself angry at how the article was written, she goes outside to throw away the paper along with her recent paper, running into Nick once more. They end up having a quick conversation and when she goes back inside nick spots the painting of the sharks she did and takes it from the garbage. He then continues to do his jog/walk and passes a boy in a wheelchair with no hair, the boy smiles and he returns the smile, but continues to stare at him as he passes by, obviously comparing himself to the boy.
Meryl’s mate Elise drags an unmotivated Meryl to the pool where she has a brief encounter with Andy’s wife and daughter, unbeknownst to her. At one point she thinks that the daughters dead mans float is real, and pictures the worst only to feel like an idiot when she comes back up for air. Once in the pool Meryl has another animated vision, peaceful at first until the shark emerges and bites her in half.
Now at a cricket match with Andy and Nick’s team we get to see how Andy feels about god. Nick asks if he believes and Andy gets riled. Nick imagines a aneurism going in inside Andy’s head as he says he doesn’t believe in god, then storms off. Nick also focuses on a man smoking and sees the microscopic cancer starting to take over his lungs, as well as fixating on a mans mole and seeing the microscopic cancer budding from the sun exposure.
Next is an emotional scene where Julia finally sees her picture in the newspaper, her family having hid the paper from her to protect her. She sees the image and is in shock, then she becomes angry and storms out of the room violently throwing the dog out of the way. This shows she believes the dog is too blame, which makes sense since one of the stages of grief is blame.
Back at the boss’s house he strolls in real happy with an extra present for their daughters birthday and pecks his wife on the cheek, to which she asks him if he’s having an affair. He smiles and says he has quit smoking, this is obviously due to him thinking of Nick and how people toy with death all the time; especially smoking.
We also see uptight Anna let her guard down as she runs through a sprinkler on her way home from work. Showing us she does have some qualities we can relate too, that she’s not just a cold hearted person.
The common segway in this film is to use an Arial shot of a bus going by, its used almost every time one of the characters is on the bus or is near a bus during a scene. This time the segway is used to establish that Andy is on the bus, and is now calling his ex. From their conversation we get the idea that Andy isn’t the best dad or family man, and has had issues with paying child support in the past. His reputation isn’t going so well with the audience at this point, him always making the wrong choice and saying the wrong things.
We are at Nick’s now, and he is restlessly looking at Meryl’s painting which eventually gives him enough motivation to go to see her. At Meryl’s she is looking forward to having another boring night at home, drinking wine. When suddenly Nick pops his head in the kitchen window scaring her half to death, which causes her to have another vision this time of a masked man with a gun shooting her in the head. He makes up a white lie that he found the painting outside and is returning it to her as an excuse to come in. She gives him the grand tour of the apartment and he tells her he admires her work and they have another morbid conversation about death and the 7 stages of grief which once again hits home with Nick on a level of which Meryl has no idea. They both focus on one painting of a person on the beach, then they both have an animated vision of an orca whale washing up on shore and eating the person. Which gets them talking about how they see death, Meryl seems relieved that he too sees people dying frequently, and it brings them even closer.
Later that evening the Nick and Meryl begin to make out, during this their minds are racing, Meryl’s thinking of her animated self contracting aids and becoming pregnant and giving birth to a bunch of terminally ill children, while Nick is thinking (in montage form) about his cancer entering new places and being transported in his blood stream. But as the mood heightens we see Nicks and Meryl’s images of cancer are diminishing as their thoughts return to back to the act.
The next few shots are tied together as all the characters, except a sleeping Meryl, are pondering things in the night. There’s Nick who takes a night walk; the bus driver deep in thought who looks up at the night sky in his backyard,; Anna on her patio; and Andy moping in his house with his front door open. They are all looking at the same night sky, but trying to conquer a vast variety of issues. Another key scene during Nick’s night walk is when he encounters a drugged up teenager, he gets angry with the kid because he’s wasting his life away, but Nick soon realizes he’s left no impression on the kid who just comments on the moons “coolness”.
The next day Nick has another flashback of his father saying he cut back on pain killers, probably to make himself feel again, but it was a dumb thing to do because his face was exerting very painful winces, which makes Nick nervous of what’s to come. He then heads back to Meryl’s, to apologize for not getting her number to call her. They end up talking about their parents again and Nick begins to tell her he has cancer, when Meryl becomes disrupted by burning toast. Nick then covers up what he planned to say with an invite for Meryl to have lunch at his mothers.
We get and inside look at the dynamics between Andy and his wife when she drops off the kids to him with a lengthy lists of “dont’s” for him to follow. She is obviously the protective parent, which is one extreme and Andy seems to be the other extreme in his lack of caring. Andy ends up taking his kids to a museum to get some knowledge into them, but seeing as they are young they get board with it, which a receptive father would have foreseen.
We are now at Nicks Mum’s, and he is in the kitchen nervously rehearsing how to tell her and Meryl he has cancer. At the dinner table Nick and his mom have a heated conversation when she brings up how not fun it was to cook his special food when he was sick, to which Nick replies “Well, it wasn’t fun for him either.” This causes both of them to leave Meryl sitting alone at the dinning table uncomfortably. She has an animated vision of the house splitting in two which seems to be symbolic of the argument that is splitting Nick from his mother. Her mother tells Nick that its how you lived not how you die that’s important which hits home with nick, who almost tells his mother about his disease, but restrains.
Julie decides, seeing Meryl’s hand made memorial, to make a bigger one for her husband. She sets to work sawing materials. A soulful song comes on as she creates her memorial, and we see the bus driver and his son sharing a beer which is the only social contact the driver has seemed to have had since the accident. We also see Andy playing with kids at a water fountain, and Andy’s boss watching his girls play at their birthday party.
Were are on a train once again and there is a great distance between Meryl and Nick, after his argument with his mother, as they sit silently on the train. We see through Nick’s eyes as he watches all the people around him, peoples faces, a woman twirling a necklace and other small things like that, but never looking at Meryl. He also has a flashback of his dad having falling out of bed trying to get to bathroom on his own. Nick becomes so lost in the thought that he doesn’t see Meryl getting up to leave. She waits for him at the door so long that she misses her stop, and you can tell that she’s angry about it.
Anna meets up with Andy at his house, and has a light argument with him in front of kids, which to me shows immaturity and a lack of respect for the kids, which is ironic seeing as she is thinking of having a kid herself. They don’t make any headway abut the issue and she leaves in a huff due to Andy’s unhelpful attitude. Later we see anna smoke a cigarette to make herself happy only to put it out two seconds later, showing that she really does care about the Childs wellbeing.
The climax takes place at a park, where Nick tells Meryl he can’t continue the relationship, Meryl screams at him thinking its because he just doesn’t like her, when in fact it’s his cancer that he doesn’t want to burden her with. When she finally calms down he tells her he has cancer and she thinks it’s a line, but when she realizes its true she runs off (quite comically actually) leaving him standing there. She runs down a street and trips while simultaneously a car swerves to miss a truck and she falls into road causing the car to swerve again nearly running over her head. She stunningly gets up and waves that she is fine but when she turns corner she bursts into tears. Surprisingly the one time she didn’t see animated visions is time she literally almost died. This played out just like one of her animated visions would have, except the car would have squished her head and blood would have squirted everywhere.
We see Andy walking along the train tracks where the accident occurred, Julia walks into the scene and he hides from her, embarrassed by how he wrote the article, and silently cries as she passes by him. It seems he is finally learning his lesson about morals and how to have feelings.
Nick gets out his emotions by running beside a train for quite sometime which eventually leads him to Andy who is standing in train tracks and moves out of the way of the train at the last moment. They have a conversation and Nick tells him he has cancer. Andy definitely cares and is affected by this, showing the audience he has finally taken grasp of his feelings.
It begins to rain and a sad song plays on the soundtrack, we see all of the characters from the film affected by the same rainfall. We see Meryl crying; Nick’s mom at home watching a news broadcast of a larger train accident in which a little girl survived; Julia sitting with her dog on her porch; Andy’s Bosses daughters party taking shelter under the patio roof; and the bus driver who has his son drive him to Julia’s to give her a note card (which Meryl painted) saying he was sorry and he finally gets reassurance from her that it wasn’t his fault. Finally we see Andy waiting outside Anna’s window, which shows that he has come around and is ready to take responsibility finally. All of these events occurring in a torrential downpour which seems symbolic of them all clearing their consciences and heads.
Once the rain stops Meryl has her last animated vision of the African boys telling her its “meant to be“, which sends her off looking for Nick. Meanwhile Nick is having a photo montage of handmade graves and flowers that he has seen over his travels, which send him looking for Meryl. The reason being that he realizes people can still be loved after they die, and that just because your sick doesn’t mean you cant be loved by someone. Finally we have a heart easing montage of nick as he goes through treatment, marries Meryl, has kids with her and goes traveling with her, showing he survived cancer and had an amazing and fulfilling life.