Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Day Thirty-six - The High Cost of Living, or "Oh, Zach... even as a creep you make me empathize."

When I saw this title pop up in recommended bar, I knew... I just knew that it couldn't be what I really wanted it to be.

Namely a film version of the Neil Gaiman's High Cost of Living... the tale of his version of Death, who is personified as a chic 90's goth girl and in HCoL lives as a human for one day every hundred years to remind herself just what it means to be alive and the gravity of it all coming to an end.

You have no idea how much I really wanted that.

No idea.

I mean, it's soooo ripe for a movie version. Even if you don't know the character from his greater Sandman series, the book was written perfectly well as a stand alone.

So beautiful, too.

But still, the title drew me in, then the cast made me click it.

While I'm ashamed to admit that I've never seen Isabelle Blais, I was certainly familiar with Zach Braff, whom most know from Scrubs and some people either love or hate him for Garden State. I can safely say that they both did a terrific job as a pair of strangers who are thrown together by one event leading to pain, loss, and guilt.

What should be a hard concept to sell, the idea of a hit and run that turns tragedy into connection, the two manage to convey the perfect amount of empathy and vulnerability to keep my suspension of disbelief going, even as the drama progresses and things start to get closer to Braff's physical and emotional home... where more and more in his old life is falling apart and his tenuous new one with Blais is in danger of exposure.

There's also no point in this film where we can't see Braff's Henry struggling both with the implications of his wrong turn (or series of wrong turns, if you count the rest of his life) and the need for him to act okay in front of the recovering Nathalie played by Blais.

The supporting cast stays pretty well on the periphery, and that's a good thing, as the core of the movie are those days of just the two of them, helping her slowly get over... or, at least, try to... what could possibly be the worst thing that could happen to an individual ever. I love how easily the supporting players slide in and out of the narrative when necessary.

I think the only problems that I had came from the pushy couple in the bar who confront Nathalie while she drinks heavily at the same time as looking very heavily pregnant. It's a real moment of "who do I side with here" that serves as the way in for Henry, but also felt a little forced too.

Other than that, I oddly loved this movie.

It's sad, it's sweet... but it works. Also, it was snowing almost every night and that killed me.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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