Movies, Opinion

Call me a Pollyanna if you must

In the past month, when I took breaks from writing I watched movies. I’m going to tell you about three of them.Two were set in Ireland, one in Australia.  Two, I’ll recommend, the other I won’t, even though it was well made. I’ll explain why, though you may not agree.

My first recommendation is Ondine, described as a romantic drama. It’s the story of Syracuse, called Circus, an Irish fisherman who discovers a mysterious woman in his fishing net and hides her away. It stars Colin Farrell who’s not hard to look at—especially with long hair. Circus is a recovering alcoholic, trying to be a good father to his daughter whose kidneys are failing. His daughter believes the woman is a selkie, a mythological character.

The selkie reference, as well as the misty, dreamlike quality of this movie, reminded me of another, The Secret of Roan Inish, which I wanted to rewatch, but my copy has disappeared.

The second move, also Irish, is The Eclipse, described as a supernatural drama. It’s the story of Michael Farr, a grieving, middle-aged widower, struggling to get on with his life as a single father. It stars Ciarán Hinds, not as “pretty” as Farrell, but handsome nonetheless. Michael teaches shop in the seaside town of Cobh, and volunteers at the local annual literary festival. There he’s assigned to assist and chauffeur a woman who writes about ghosts. Since he’s recently begun to suspect his house is haunted, he seeks her opinion.

Both these movies were quiet, drenched in atmosphere, and interesting character studies. If you like that sort, click on the links above and watch the trailers. If you’ve seen either of them, let me know what you thought.

Now, the third movie, which I decline to name. It’s based on the true story of a group of Australian men convicted as serial killers, and told from the viewpoint of the youngest of the group. Most often, serial killers act alone, so this case was unfortunately unusual.  It was well done, gruesomely, realistically, disturbingly so. I was both repulsed and mesmerized as I watched it. At one point, I had to mute the TV and yet, I didn’t stop the dvd player.

When the movie was over, I felt sick and violated. I felt as if I’d lived among those people and participated in their crimes. I felt guilty. It took me days to shake that off. The movie was well written, directed, and acted, yet it seemed an indecency to watch. I wish I never had, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forget it. For that reason I can’t recommend you watch it.

All of these movies drew me into the lives of the characters. Those are the sort of movies—and books—that I love, and that’s why I need to be careful whose life I’m drawn into. Maybe it’s my age. I’m well aware that life is messy, complicated, sometimes midnight black because I’ve lived through six decades of it. I’d rather be assured of the decency in humanity than of the depravity. I believe in hope. So give me at least a glimmer of light in those last frames or pages and I’ll remember you fondly.

12 thoughts on “Call me a Pollyanna if you must”

  1. Of course, I had to go and google the name of that movie. Now I’m trying to decide whether I can stomach it or not. Thanks for the recommendations on the other two though, will add them to my list 🙂


    1. Cassie, I figured I didn’t need to give the title for anyone who really wanted to see that movie, but I didn’t want Google linking it with my blog. I’m not a delicate flower. I’ve watched numerous movies with dark subjects and graphic realism, but this one was just too much for me.


      1. I think any time movies like this (horrific ones) are based on real life events it adds a layer of difficulty to the viewing of it. I was pretty gut wrenched by an NZ movie depicting a mass murder that occurred when I was about ten, that’s for sure!


        1. You’re right, Cassie. A horrific case of torture and murder occurred in my town when I was in high school. I knew some of the kids involved. Books and movies have been made about the case and I want no part of them.


  2. There are certain kinds of movies I won’t watch and books I won’t read, just because I don’t want them taking residence in my head . . . and they will, oh they will . . . .

    The first two sound really intriguing and I want to check them out .


  3. The hardest task an artist can attempt to accomplish is to create a perceived perfection. Especially if trying to write that perfect end that gives some form of universal hope. How do you create in mass what is as individual as the experience of life itself? Unless of course you are writing to formula, but when breaking the mold, telling a true story, or even crossing genre, those lines become incredibly blurred. Hope is nothing more than a mere expectation of a desired outcome. Who can make the choice as to what outcome is acceptable? Is it the job of the reader or writer? The audience of the performer? The burden necessarily falls on the writer/performer as the reader/audience will bring to the story their hopes and desires without the writer having foreknowledge of what those expectations are. The complications of filling others needs are defined by the very desires they try to fulfill, for that desired outcome is no more a singular than truth, or happiness, or even the meaning of life. The beauty of it all lies in finding first yourself and then allowing yourself to remain true to that individual nature as the reader may not agree, but also cannot deny the writers outcome.

    I understand why you prefer to distance yourself from certain characters because I also distance myself from certain expectations of hope as it is perceived by others. So no, your not a Pollyanna at all – just wise enough to have defined who you are and even wiser by surrounding yourself in those comforts. Life can be complicated and often not a pleasurable experience! Why add to it a self-imposed layer of vexation! 🙂 Read, Write, Live, and love yourself!


    1. K. I’m certainly not advocating writing to formula, nor am I suggesting the censorship of stories I might consider hopeless. If someone should ask me for a depiction of the darkest of souls, I might point them to that third movie. I think we all have a perverse curiosity satisfied by those sort of books of movies, but for me, this was the one that killed the cat.

      I know for writers such as yourself, it’s necessary to delve into darkness. It’s not the journey that disturbs me, but the final destination.

      My obligation as a fiction author is to write what pleases me—to the best of my ability. My obligation as a reader is to read what pleases me.


  4. The two Irish movies sound charming and I will put them on my list. I can’t and don’t watch anything with violence. I am a pure Pollyanna and proud of it.


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