Friday, January 28, 2005

The Door in the Floor

Rarely has sex looked so mournful, the erotic been so pained. These people who live after a loss that one can’t imagine surviving. The northeast beaches, the sun in the grass, on the sand, looking cold. These muted youths. These nude women in their fifties that make you want to be with nude women in their fifties. An Irving film, and to understand, you must know his work, though not necessarily the work on which it was based (Widow For a Year). His touch is everywhere, the self conscious, semi-forced one liners the echo—with the sort of inexpertness of fatigue—early, less conspicuous tag lines: Keep passing the open windows; beware the undertoad; sorrow floats. A confusing film if you don’t know how to look at it. You’ll think it’s the boy’s story, maybe the wife’s; unless you know Irving, you’ll not understand it is the writer’s story, as unlikeable as he; it is in fact a story about storytelling, the place between the life of the writer and the work a writer creates, a statement concerning the price of art, suggesting that to write, one must choose the door in the floor, all the terror behind it, one must go crawling round in there and get comfortable, so that to be a real writer, you have separated yourself from others, who would never choose the door in the floor, who avoid it at all costs, who are frozen by the thought of it, so that while tragedy destroys the normal person, the writer painfully embraces it and then, of course, tells the story, the most perfect witness, and perfectly alone. A self aggrandizing statement to be sure, one it’s hard to buy, but I have to like the way it’s offered.