The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

I went to see The Barbarian Invasions this afternoon. It was the second time I've gone to a theater to see it; last time was about a month or two ago. I practically never go catch a movie in theaters twice, so it's a strong indication of how much I enjoyed it the first go-round.

As it began today, I was suddenly struck by how much the core theme from Invasions mirrored another film I've seen fairly recently: Big Fish. Essentially, both movies are about strained relationships between fathers and sons, with the impending death of the fathers triggering moves toward reconciliation and resolution (of sorts). That one movie was largely a fantasy (Fish), while the other was a more sober look at mortality and regrets (Invasions) doesn't diminish their common strengths. In each case, it made for an engrossing and (for me) unexpectedly touching story. It's hard to craft a good male-bonding relationship on film without it coming off as either sickly sweet or else goofy, but I think the directors for these two flicks did it beautifully.

The other common theme in them is their settings: The American South for Fish and Quebec for Invasions. Both regions are hinterlands of sorts; I tried to get across my feelings on that for the South shortly after seeing Fish, and more recently found those ideas recast in terms of the political landscape. Quebec, in relation to the rest of Canada (and even North America), is often cast in the same light. In both movies, place is as much a factor in shaping the characters that propel the story.