Monday, March 10, 2014

When Movies Are Too Real, Part Deux - Nebraska

It took me, I'm not even kidding, three days and five attempts to actually watch Nebraska.

This is the part where you get to laugh at me. Ready?

So I got that and Catching Fire to watch Friday while the husband was out at game night with his buddies. After the kids went to bed, I put Nebraska in. The opening credits played through, and then I sat and watched the movie in complete silence for a good 5-10 minutes before realizing that the dialogue was actually missing. I thought it was done for dramatic effect at first.

Told you that you would laugh.

The disc was screwed up. My darling husband came home and told me the next day that he would look at it and see if he could get it to play. As I made dinner, he summoned me from the kitchen about every five minutes to tell me he got it working.

The first time, it was subtitled.

The second time, it was in French.

The third time, it had the set directions, but not the dialogue.

I gave up answering him at some point because he thought he was hilarious. Then he called Redbox and told them the disc was not working, went out and got another copy of it.

We meant to watch it yesterday afternoon but got too busy cleaning. By the time we sat down to watch it, we got four minutes into it before his parents arrived for dinner.

The movie gods did not want me to watch this movie, apparently.

We finally did watch it last night, and I have to tell you guys....oh the feels.

Without wanting to spoil too much of the movie, it centers on Woody Grant, a grumpy old man who is absolutely convinced that he has won a million dollars in a sweepstakes and refuses to believe anyone who tells him he is wrong. He wants to go collect his winnings, but his wife won't drive him. He lost his license years ago because of dementia (though they never actually say Alzheimer's in the film, I'm working on that assumption). His son David agrees to take him and the movie is about their journey together.

First, I have to say that the performances in the film are as good as you've heard. Bruce Dern and June Squibb were amazing, and Will Forte showed a side of himself that I didn't think I would ever see.

Second, I have to say that this film made me angry. And sad. And angry. And sad.

My husband's grandfather had Alzheimer's and developed a habit of disappearing, leaving for walks and forgetting where he was or where he was going. He eventually was placed in a home when it became too dangerous a situation both for him and his wife, my husband's grandmother. It was excruciating to watch it all happen. By the time I met him (and I'm using the term loosely), he had long forgotten who my then-boyfriend was. He was completely non-verbal. The family endured years of him in this slowly worsening state, after already enduring years of the panicked phone calls and driving around town searching for him.

Woody is not entirely there anymore in the film, and his family struggles almost constantly with what to do with him. Does he need to be in a home, should he be in a home, is this fair to him or anyone else? He becomes belligerent and angry at times, which happens more often than most people who haven't been through it understand. It was easily the most realistic portrayal of the struggle of a man fading away and the family that loves him that I have ever seen on a screen.

A little too real.

That wasn't all, though, that hurt.

The pursuit of this vast fortune he knew he'd won was his motivation. He believed with everything in his heart that he was going to be rich, though when asked what he would do with the money, all he wants is a truck. He hadn't been able to drive in years. To him, though, it didn't matter. All he could see was the prize.

This. This part hurt. So goddamn much. The frustration on the faces of his sons and wife when he insists this must be true, the doubt and skepticism they try so desperately to communicate to him. Their efforts to make him understand that it's all a scam, a ploy to get him to buy magazine subscriptions and that it can't be real and that there is no money. His insistence that they are all wrong and that he knows he is right.

Good lord.

I lived this.

My mom was scammed, though in a totally different way. I saw her in him. I saw us in his sons. People, sick and evil people out there in this world, they prey on the elderly. They prey on the weak. They exploit them. They victimize them. They do it because they can, and they do it because it works.

These scammers are professionals. They are conniving and convincing. They are experts at their craft and they know how to do it without being caught. They know that the families of their victims, that the victims themselves, will be left with no recourse.

There was no amount of convincing we could do. God knows we tried. We all tried. But she was right and we were wrong.

Except we weren't.

And she paid the price.

To those of you out there with parents still around, keep an eye out for this stuff. Please.

That, and be prepared for the fight of your life, knowing that you will probably never win.

This movie broke my heart over and over again, but I think the end stung the most. It stung because my mother and I never got to have that moment, even if it was all an illusion. She left.

Some days I am angry and sad. Some days I just wish things had been different. Some days I just miss her.

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