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2015年11月2日 星期一

Lies, Lies, Damned Lies (謊言, 謊言, 要命的謊言)

Lies are endemic, not only to humans, but to animals as well. Lies and disguises are one of evolution's ways of ensuring that individuals will somehow survive. Human beings are experts in camouflage, deception, hypocrisies and lies. We lie to our superiors, our subordinates, our colleagues, our enemies, our friends, our parents, our children and our mates. Worst of all, we lie even to ourselves.  In Why We Lie (2014) David Livingstone Smith says,  "Deceit is the Cinderella of human nature; essential to our humanity but disowned by its perpetrators at every turn. " He adds that it's" normal, natural and pervasive." If I may judge from what Dito Montiel (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006) and The Son of No One (2011)) is doing in his latest film Boulevard (2014), starring Robin William, (his last film), it certainly looks that way.


In this film we see Nolan Mack (Robin Williams), a quiet, soft-spoken, well-mannered, unassuming man of 60 who has been at his job as a bank manager at the same branch for 25 years in a small nondescript American town, visit his bedridden father, sits a while with him, feeds him his favourite but forbidden drink,  gives every night a light bedtime peck to the cheek of his notional wife Joy (Kathy Baker) (a part time English teacher with whom he never copulates) before retiring to his own bedroom. He would probably have continued doing the same thing day after day had an accident not happened: his car bumped into back of a youngster, Leo (Robert Aquirre) causing him to totter and fall. He apologized profusely, asking if he was hurt. Leo said it was OK but Nolan felt terrible and asked him if he could give him a lift. After a second or two of hesitation, Leo accepted and Nolan took him to his shabby slum apartment. Leo asked  Nolan if he wanted his cock sucked or vice versa. He didn't say anything but the two ended up in Leo's bedroom. But they did not have sex. From then on, he felt distracted and could not concentrate on his work and would eagerly await Leo's call but Leo seldom did.  He paid Leo each time as a hustler and felt a strange attraction to him, bought him an I-phone, arranged for a  job interview at the restaurant of the latest girl friend of his best friend Winston's (Bob Odenkirk), a college literature professor, bought a shirt for Leo's interview and paid him each time but without having sex, wanting merely to look at him and to love him in his strangely Platonic way, and tried to defend him when Leo's pimp demanded him for the money which he didn't believe Leo did not get and got a black eye as a result. As time went on, his attraction to the boy grew until it became an irresistible compulsion and he missed the appointment with the regional bank manager for a pre-promotion dinner specially arranged for him by his immediate superior who told him he really stuck out his neck for him and advised him not to bungle it which he duly did when he got news that Leo was in hospital owing to a drug overdose.

When the film ends, Nolan quit his job, divorced his wife and confessed to his father that he found he had gay orientations already when he was 12 during one of the family camping trips. Yet he could never accept it through all those intervening years. He kept it to himself and his notional wife and didn't disclose that dark secret even to his best friend Winston. Only after he did what he had to do did he feel free. For the first time, we see him without a tie, walking, smiling and brushing off that melancholic and slightly doleful look of indifference we see on his face when we see him drive around in his lack lustre and slightly outdated Mercedes-Benz around at the start of the film. He finally got the courage to face his own worst enemy: himself. As a result, he lost his job and his wife. But his also lost the burden of a zombie-like existence which he had been living since age 12 to age 60. He regained the most precious  gift that a man can possibly give himself, his integrity as a human being.

I like the quiet and unobstrusive  music which blends in perfectly with the film's laid back style.
Williams was perfect as the gentle and repressed gay that he truly was: his quiet frustration, his patience, his sensitivity, his gentleness and thoughtfulness for all those he meets as he treads gingerly within the circumsribed paths paths of his life. The film was a masterpiece of restraint and understatement, and perhaps for some in Hong Kong rather too boring  because they don't get here the type car wheel screeching and explosive expression of raging emotions with broken glass or wood splinters or reddish yellow mushrooms of petrol flames flying high in the air to the accompaniment of the ear splitting sound of blind bullets scraping metallic surfaces etc. to which they are accustomed to expect from Hollywood. But not for me. Nothing much happens. Yet there was a quiet revolution pregnant with meaning for the protagonist who was finally able to be what he truly has been all along! It was enough for me . And Robin Williams gave a riveting performance.