Would you believe it? Today was World Youth Day. SSS, a confirmed atheist, saw not only the empty Popemobile but the Pope-ocade as it whizzed down Oxford St after todays Mass.
It was all accidental but not entirely unlikely. I went to see Mamma Mia last week (go and see it, it's fantastic) and they were giving out free tickets to a screening of The Savages which was taking placetoday. I was at a loose end this morning and it was a toss up between the gym and the film. Clearly the freebie was a more attractive proposition. The cinema is located on Oxford St which would be fine if the epicentre of World Youth Day wasn't directly between my house and my chosen destination. Anyway, I took the bus and arrived in good time for the screening thanks to the diversion. I was sipping my coffee and flicking through the Sunday papers when I heard the screaming of police sirens. I looked out of the window to see the empty Popemobile tearing down Oxford St accompanied by 4 - yes, 4 - police bikes.
After watching the film (more on that in a minute) I wandered down Oxford St to meet a friend for lunch and was loitering outside our chosen meeting place when I heard the now familiar sound of police sirens. The traffic was stopped and police cars, white limos, a black limo with darkened windows(could have been a Roller or Daimler, not sure), two ambulances and a very large black van screamed past. I rang my Irish Catholic friend this evening and she laughingly suggested that that God was reaching out to me. I won't tell you what I said in reply.
So, back to the film. Wendy and Jon Savage are brother and sister. They've been estranged from their elderly father for some years when a call comes to inform them that he's about to be made homeless and is suffering from dementia. They're placed in the position of caring for a parent who doesn't seem to have done a very good job of caring for them.
I'll be honest. This film isn't easy to watch. The subject matter is uncomfortable, to say the least. Laura Linney is outstanding as the slightly neurotic younger sister who works as a temp but longs to become a successful playright. Her only relationships are with her cat and her married neighbour. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is Jon, a drama professor with a PhD and a seeming inability to commit to his long term girlfriend. Philip Bosco plays their father, Lenny. He doesn't seem to realise what's going on half the time and thinks the nursing home is a hotel. There's no affection shown between the family members. We're not told exactly why Wendy and Jon became estranged from their father but we're left with the distinct impression that there's no love or affection between parent and children. Indeed, both siblings seem to resent the intrusion into their lives yet it's Laura who seems to make more of a sacrifice. I met two friends at the screening and I asked them for their impressions. Neither of them were particularly impressed. One of them said that he 'didn't need to see that sort of thing in a film.' As I said, it's not easy to watch. I certainly squirmed a bit. But it made me think about when children grow older and take on the role of a parent. It would be hard enough to do but imagine if you didn't particularly like the parent you were doing it for. There are moments of humour but I filled with a sadness that stayed with me for some time. Don't go and see it if you're feeling sad.
Well. The Pope flies out tomorrow. Whatever shall I complain about now?