Friday, April 11, 2014

"As good as it gets" - A film, a study in the art of histronics

Contrary to wise and popular opinion there are no absolutes in this world . It is only an abstraction created by the mind when it cannot find tranquility in the "what is". A complete Misanthrope, fastidious to the core, utterly repulsive, disdains company or relationship in any form - such is the character of Melvin essayed by the inimitable Jack Nicholson : the seemingly neurotic author in this brilliant 1997 movie "As good as it gets". One cannot expect even the mildest curtsies from this man. His neighbors detest him, and he revels in their discomfort. He mouths the most hurtful comments to his gay neighbor Simon ; presents to him, his most disgraceful self ; makes him squirm and writhe through his pointed taunts and sarcasms; and yet our hero, is also a successful author who is capable of writing the most tender stories about love and relationships. Such is the anomaly of life. He needs to sit at the same table at his restaurant for breakfast, use his own cutlery, and more so, be waited by the same Server , the beautiful and frank Carol played to perfection by Helen hunt. This is the setting of this touching romantic comedy directed by James brooks who has given us such great movies as "Terms of endearment" ( I had reviewed this movie a while ago) and "Broadcast news"..

The Movie moves along predictable lines with Melvin learning to adapt himself and draw deep into his inner resources to change to new circumstances in his life. People around him begin to realize that there is a small gurgling stream of kindness, compassion and good warmheartedness in him that has been largely driven underground by his obnoxious alter ego. Carol and Simon take his life along a path that brings out the best in him , and gets him to understand that to become a Human being, it is necessary to open oneself to life and its crudities.. Now, All this may sound a bit heavy and sentimental for an average viewer, but let me quickly assure you that this movie will tickle and make you laugh ; poke and make you think; inject timeless wisdom and awaken you. A wonderfully enacted movie !!!!!

It is not often that a movie gets an Oscar for both the Male and female leads in a single year. This was one of those rare occasions. And who can doubt the credentials of Jack Nicholson or Helen hunt for achieving this coveted prize. It is not so much the story or the role or the director that makes this a great film; but it is what these two phenomenal actors bring to bear on their roles. Nicholson as Melvin exemplifies the meanness that a human can be capable of : his body language, diction, minute micro expressions on his elastic face churn within us a deep aversion for him in the beginning;, which then slowly melts and transforms into an equally deep sympathy and love for the character. And that is not an easy task to achieve in a two hour drama.

And, what can I write about the talent of Helen hunt? I remember reading John Simon, the legendary Film critic describe her as " .... fiercely female, and meltingly feminine, more sexy then pretty and gloriously fusing the natural with the histrionics .." I am not sure if anyone else can describe her better; and in such few words..

In all, it would be one of the finest movie experiences you will have. And, If you have already seen it, I urge to see it once more, and this time to pay attention to the artistic sublimity of its protagonists.. In the end, it is a gentle love story with all the ingredients of an entertainer, but told and acted with an verve that elevates this film to be one of greatest motion pictures of the modern era...

God bless....

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