19 September 2001 | mdopooh
A beautiful essay on the need of material things in our existence...
It's just what material objects do. They give us the security and tranquility to go on in life, when all other things appear to be crumbling. Rose Troche's "The Safety Of Objects" is one of the most interesting and poetic depictions of everyday life in a suburban "paradise" in the USA. Being from Mexico, is just another thing that allowed me appreciate it even more: I saw it like a foreigner, like a witness, without wanting to be part of the world Troche describes. But its message is so powerful, that I ended as part of this society that I already knew, but was afraid to accept. Based on the novel by A.M. Homes, "The Safety Of Objects" tells different stories, that reminded me of movies such as "Happiness" or "Grand Canyon", but in a really different tone.
We are presented early on to Esther Gold (a formidable, as usual, Glenn Close), a woman that has to deal with his sick son in a coma, and with her daughter who is unable to express what he feels about the situation of his beloved brother. We also are introduced to the Trains, a really nice couple that has come to a dead point in which the father, Jim (Dermot Mulroney in a really great performance) is dealing with a job crisis, and with the notion that maybe he doesn't have any goal in his life. His wife, Susan (Moira Kelly) tries to understand him but is unable to do so and starts to blame his husband for his usefulness around the house. Their kids seem like normal kids, but Jake, their son, has a strange obsession with a doll from his sister´s room. Also, we met the Jennings and the Christianson, two more families living near by, and with their own secrets. And there's this strange guy, portrayed by Timothy Olyphant, that seems out of place, until we realize what is his part in this story.
It may be difficult to explain the different stories that Rose Troche carry on without seeing the film, but one detail is certain: it almost seems that in the center of all things is Paul Gold (Joshua Jackson), the comatose son of Glenn Close's character. And as we are seeing this people living their lives, we are also committed to think about our lives. These characters have lots of problems to handle, their own insecurity and all their fears, their unfulfilled lives, their need of attention and support, but in their hearts, they only need safety: the safety to know that tomorrow everything is going to be fine, but only if they allow themselves to breath, and go on.
This film is just a beautiful essay of how everyone in this world tries to feel safe. Jessica Campbell, Joshua Jackson's character's sister, feels safe with the guitar of his brother in his arms. Dermot Mulroney's character starts to feel safe when he goes from goal to goal, trying to find something to feel fine with himself and his own life. It is only when they start to realize what they are doing, and start to accept the things that surround them, that they become aware of the vacuity of the safety that objects bring. And their problems then become real, and manageable.
"The Safety Of Objects" is an excellent motion picture, really. The work of Rose Troche as writer and director are really supreme, and the cast is really great too. Glenn Close shines as the always depressed and distant Esther, and Dermot Mulroney gives maybe the best performance of his life. Joshua Jackson's performance is credible, and Jessica Campbell is just great, along with Alex House, the kid with this "Barbie obsession". Maybe in other countries outside USA, "The Safety Of Objects" could be just another film about life in the 2000. But for Americans, and for seekers of good films around the world, this is a beautiful essay of the triviality of material objects, and the real assumption of our place in the world, our goals in life, and above all, the knowledge that the way to solve our problems is facing our fears and our responsibilities. Life is made of these powerful ideas, it would be a crime to let life pass us by without knowing that we are breathing... and that we have to walk ahead, farther along the way.