Tuesday, January 07, 2014

The Object of Beauty

What defines a good film? 

My definition is a story and experience which resonates so with feelings of one's heart that one keeps awake late after midnight thinking about it. When a motion picture, in all its soliloquy experience, brings tears to one's eyes and stirs one's heart then, in my definition, it has become a film worth writing about. The best experiences are those where a film jolts you and stimulates emotions which are a polar opposite from ones inventory of feelings of that particular day, week or month. John Malkovich and Andy McDowell star as the Bartholomeo couple in the 1990 film called The Object of Beauty. They are a unmarried cohabiting pair who are in love and live recklessly in a London Hotel. Andy has an valuable bronze statue by Henry Moore. The statue is less than 6 inches (a tiny one) but it is only of one of nine ever made. Andy received the statue from her separated husband as a gift. When the Bartholomeos get the statue appraised at a pawn shop they are told it is worth 25,000 pounds. To cover their increasingly debt ridden situation they plan, albeit without seriousness, to hide the statue and file an insurance claim. However in a twist the statue is actually stolen from their hotel room. 

The hotel had recently hired Julie, a young deaf and dumb immigrant woman, as a housekeeper. Julie is obviously poor and has a brother, Steve, who is a disaffected youth dependent  on his sister. One day when Julie is cleaning the room she notices the statue from the corner of her eye.

I think the film truly came alive from the experience Julie has with the statue. With apparently little to no formal education, and without any acquired appreciation for works of art Julie (a mute) falls in love with the little Henry Moore statue at a first glance. She subsequently steals it and keeps it hiding from her troublemaker brother. The statue keeps her awake at night and she is obviously very very happy to acquire it. And all of this is without her being aware of its monetary or artistic value. Towards the end when asked why she stole it, she confesses that "it (the statue) spoke to me". When the Bartholomeos file a claim, a hotel investigator shows up at Julie's house. Steve discovers the statue and tries to sell it. With no basis of comparison Steve's contact agent dealing in stolen goods think that the statue is worthless. When Julie discovers the status is not in her possession she completely loses herself. In a fit of sadness and urgency she searches her house, even breaking her other things in the this effort. Steve confesses that he stole the statue and the two of them go the junkyard where he lost it. When Julie finds the statue she breaks down crying while holding it in her hands. At the the end the Bartholomeos get back their statue and Julie does not have the go to jail. She does, however, lose her job at the hotel.

At the beginning I did not pay any attention to the name of the film. Instead of naming the film as "An Object of Beauty", the filmmakers named it as "The Object of Beauty". And that truly does makes sense once you see the film. 

Remarkable. Very well done.

                                                                The Object of Beauty

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