“Who Are These People?”

“In the books that I’ve been reading,
they say exactly what they mean.
They don’t say ‘uh, uh, uh, uh, uh.’

They don’t stutter, they don’t mutter.
They don’t repeat themselves.
They don’t repeat themselves.
They know exactly what they’re doing, they know why.
Who are these people?  Where do they live? …”

– Trout Fishing in America

Movies sometimes make me feel inferior. My favorite romantic comedy, Dream for an Insomniac, tops my list mainly because of the quote battles that draw the main characters together. I love watching their repartee, but I know my memory would never hold up if I had the chance to join in.

Watching the airplane scene near the beginning of Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz, I made a similar assessment, aware that I do not possess the quick wit that Margot and Daniel display in their pleasantly deep conversation about fear. But as I watched them depart from the plane, the insightful words of Trout Fishing in America (TFiA) allowed me to renew my sense of self worth. These characters are not real people, so I shouldn’t compare myself to their practiced dialogue and polished behaviors.

As the film continued, though, I realized that Sarah Polley’s characters are among the most realistic to have ever inhabited only two dimensions. I have been impressed by the repetitive speech of David Mamet’s characters, but Polley captures silence better than I’ve ever not heard. She embodies her characters with an uncertainty that’s rare on the screen but common in life, making them flawed, second-guessing, awkward people that I can imagine actually knowing, or being. By the end of the film, comparing myself to them is a fair endeavor, and I enjoy and learn from their story even more.

TFiA, meet Sarah Polley’s people—you may have even gone to school with them.

Beth: http://finesse117.tumblr.com

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