3 July 2009 | colour-me-kubrick
Movies can change lives
Often you hear the adage, "It is just a film". Well, for most times it is true. But on rarest of rare occasions, it isn't. This was one of them. Like a great piece literature, painting, poetry, speech it has the capacity to change the way you feel and think. It is the biggest compliment I can pay to a film. I rank Groundhog Day with Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Waking Life, Synecdoche New York, Tokyo Story, Ikiru as one of the moves that has the capacity to change.
It is anything but a preachy film as the "intro" to the review might suggest. In fact it an extremely entertaining and funny film with one of the best performances ever by Bill Murray. The plot revolves around a weather man (Bill Murray) is reluctantly sent to cover a story about a weather forecasting "rat" (as he calls it). This is his fourth year on the story, and he makes no effort to hide his frustration. On awaking the 'following' day he discovers that it's Groundhog Day again, and again, and again. First he uses this to his advantage, then comes the realization that he is doomed to spend the rest of eternity in the same place, seeing the same people do the same thing every day.
The challenge here for the makers was in terms of screenplay, editing and performances. Bear in mind that, the "loops" Bill Murray's character goes through, might become redundant for the audience after a while. This is where the genius of Harold Ramis and Bill Murray comes into play, who seem to introduce a "novelty" factor with every shot of the same sequence. I couldn't think of any actor other than Murray who could have pulled this one off.
It is a movie likely to deceive you in its effortless narrative and casual comic tone. Yes, it is funny, but make no mistake about it, it is a film with a strong philosophical undertone. This is a quality that separates Groundhog from rest of the movies with similar intent. It tells you what it intends to on your terms. It deals with the questions that bother us for a better part of our lives i.e. meaning of life, purpose of life, existentialism, death, god but never preaches, nor propels any propaganda. But by the end of it, you know that something has changed, something you didn't see coming has happened. And then you watch it again only to realize the moment of Epiphany that eluded you the first time.
Every time I am down or losing perspective this is the movie that eases everything and makes me ask a simple question, "What is important?". One of the absolute great films of the 90s, but more than just a film for me.