Saturday, August 14, 2010

Re-Viewed: Rain Man by Rebekah Hakkenberg

I watched Rainman last night for the first time in possibly 15 or 20 years, and I was kind of blown away by how nice it was to look at: dusty sunsets, kitschy motels, small town diners and faux bois TV's... I could watch it over and over again for the wardrobe and interiors alone, but I'm also fascinated by the ways this movie seems to challenge, while at the same time upholding the ideologies of Reaganite consumerism.  But that's another post all together...

Sure, Dustin Hoffman has been praised for his role as the autistic savant brother, but I forgot how great Tom Cruise was before he went all loopy. And how stunning Valeria Golino is, just in general... in her pink high waisted pants and double breasted military blazer, she'd be a Sartorialist favourite today.  And this goes without saying, but Tom Cruise was born to wear sunglasses.

This movie isn't really about Raymond's autism, it's about distance.  Charlie is the one who turns out to have problems connecting with another human being.  While Raymond's disability is a biological one, something he has no control over, Charlie's is psychological.  His relationship with his emotionally distant father sets up his own inability to even talk to his girlfriend on a 7 hour car ride, and change is only possible when he is faced with someone seemingly more closed off than he is.

In an early scene, the two brothers are in separate rooms of a hotel suite while Charlie's girlfriend Susanna rushes back and forth between them.  The camera cuts from one end of the hallway to the other, showing (literally) the walls between them.  Deep shots and focus heighten the physical and emotional space between characters, and are also used to convey the endless feeling of the wide open road.  In another scene, Charlie and Susanna argue in the car as a way to break the silence, and it is apparent that this is an argument they have had before.  When a phone call interrupts them, they both look ahead at the road and make the same unconscious gesture at the same time.  It's a fleeting moment, but it's a very real moment.  And their inability to connect with each other is made all the more poignant.

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