Mumbai Musings: Day 5 - As they laugh with gay abandon, we meet long lost ‘friends’
This week-long column is a contemplation of the films watched by the writer on each day of the ongoing 19th Mumbai Film Festival
As a teenager, I’d barely been introduced to Hollywood films (read action films), when someone recommended this supposedly great film called Reservoir Dogs. Having woken up to international films quite late, I didn’t know back then that one Mr Quentin Tarantino had made his debut with it. I loaned a CD as was the norm then, and got thoroughly disappointed. Where were the fights? Where were the pulsating action sequences? This was, after all, what Indian cinema halls had told me was Hollywood.
As chance would have it, after a few years, I stumbled upon the film again, but this time, to contrasting effect. I sat riveted by all the tension and the clever dialogues. Comedy of slapstick variety, thriller, horror- these are all genres that are easy to like. But a two-hour drama full of dialogue? That takes some warming up to, some maturity, some worldly wisdom. But once you acquire a taste for it, nothing’s quite like it.
It is for that reason that I was thrilled about catching Last Flag Flying yesterday at the Mumbai film festival. Its director, Richard Linklater, is quite proficient with conversational films, having made the Before trilogy. He’s a director, whose characters, seemingly engaged in what seem like everyday dialogue, somehow end up holding a mirror to the best moments of our lives, given that they are punctuated more by conversations than car chases.
There are all sorts of conversations in Last Flag Flying, mainly between its three main characters, battle-scarred long lost friends. There’s even time in the film for them to discuss topics that don’t particularly serve any overt purpose.
As an Eminem song plays on the radio, one of the characters learns, to his consternation, that the rapper isn’t African American. It’s the sort of talk you and I have with our friends. They talk about the not-so-transparent motives of government.
They talk about the advent of cellphones. They talk about the effects of religion. And in between all this talk, they discover companionship, deal with loss, and above all, learn what it feels like to laugh with gay abandon again.
Life, even without them realising, even as they are immersed in these conversations, happens. Just like it does for you and me.