I watched a movie and finished a book yesterday. The movie was, “The Lunchbox” - an almost Oscar nominee about a man in the sunset of his life and a young woman trapped in a loveless marriage. And the book, “The Fault in our Stars,” a poignant coming of age of two cancer-struck teenagers.
But I was annoyed. I was annoyed at this ridiculous artistic license that writers and filmmakers take in not ending the story. I get it, really, I do. I’ve taken enough fiction and screenwriting classes and have appreciated great works of art to understand this particular device. But yesterday I was annoyed.
It is ironic. In the book, the teenagers connect over a book that has an unfinished ending. And they travel to Europe to find the author and ask him how it ends. It drives them crazy to not know what happened to the people in the book they had invested so much time in. But then, the book ends exactly that way. Abruptly. Without an absolution.
As does the movie. It is not a unique story, The lunchbox. Reminded me of a Jhumpa Lahiri story. Reminded me of Lost in Translation. Bits and pieces of other stories and films. But I got invested in the characters. I was rooting for Ila and Mr. Fernandes. I was also anxious if their connection over words would survive the often-fatal in person meeting. A misunderstanding, a cross-connection and boom - the movie ends. Did she make it to Bhutan? Did she meet Mr. Fernandes? Did they find happiness?
You may think that I am not appreciating the sublime beauty of story-telling. Of how by not ending the stories, the makers of these stories have offered us a hundred million permutations to end it ourselves, in our imaginations. To make the story stay longer in our heads.
But I fell in love with these characters. And I would have liked them to stay in my head forever as happy people, or people who had closure. Now they are in a limbo. Their fates at the hands of their viewers and readers…zigzagging through the infinite firmament, without rest, without respite.
And that is not the ending I would have given them.
Like Lost in Translation. When I watched that movie, I knew that this was just a random, momentary collision of two souls, firmly planted in their own orbits. It was unlikely that there was a forever or even a future for them. But there was an ending. There was a hasty but proper goodbye, marking the moment their orbits disconnected permanently.
I guess that’s all I’m asking for. If you fall in love with someone, even if it is for the briefest of times, it deserves acknowledgement.
I’m afraid I don’t find artistic beauty in ambiguity, anymore. Life is too short for people, fictional or real, to not have certainty when it comes to matters of the heart.
Just my Saturday morning ramble. Happy spring to whoever reads this.