Jan. 30, 2013 - Issue #902: Come cry with Daniel Romano
Eight times seven
The every-seven-years documentary series checks in with its subjects at 56
So here we are again, in 56 Up, checking in on these people's relationships, family, careers, finances, health, self-reflections and feelings about the series. We're reminded that so much of Up's power comes not from timelessness but its time-fullness—cutting between younger and older selves, between past anticipations and present reflections. And there's its place-ness—an England of pub darts or karaoke night at the local, wry humour, holidays to Spain or Portugal, a football-side's famous victory, country villages, Oxford quads and London neighbourhoods.
Up (like the same-titled Pixar film's poignant montage of a couple growing older) has become a stirring reflection, even tribute, to the little bends and turns of ordinariness, the ebbs and surges of everyday lives. Many marriages here pulse with contentment even as most of the men keep a tight rein on their emotions (though jockey-turned-cabbie Tony's a frank exception). Society's stratified not by class-birth but financial success; attitudes are altered by the times. Sue, once associating marriage with kids, now, after divorce, sees no urgency to marry her fiancé of 14 years. Jackie, beset by ill health and deaths of those close to her, remains stubbornly optimistic even as Prime Minister Cameron's austerity politics shoves her off disability benefits. You can hear longtime librarian Lynn's anger with the Tory cuts that made her and some family "redundant."
Peter, who bowed out after malicious tabloid press reaction to his political views in 28 Up (during the Thatcher era), reminds us we can't imagine what it's like to have on-screen personas that pundits attack or others think they know. He's returned with canny awareness of that persona, reappearing to promote his Americana band. Neil, homeless in his 20s but now a local politician, seems most self-revealing yet emphasizes, like Suzy and Nick, that the film barely touches on his true self.
Still, Up leads us towards humble, incomplete self-examination. How, you may well wonder, have I changed since I saw 49 Up? How will I change by the time of 63 Up? And if these seemingly long, roaming existences, like mine, can be edited down to mere minutes of intriguing but irresolvable humdrum-ness, what does our life-document all mean, as we near those final words, that parting shot that we can't direct—the end.
Fri, Feb 1 – Thu, Feb 7
Directed by Michael Apted
Metro Cinema at the Garneau
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