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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

All I Want

All I WantIn the movie All I Want, a teen named Jones (played by Elijah Wood) drops out of college and rents an apartment in a building with several eccentric characters with the hope of focusing on his writing.

Throughout the first part of movie, Jones drags a huge, brown, beat up chest around with him. He says it contains all of his stuff. But once he gets settled into his apartment, we see him type a letter to his father in which he tells his dad about his plan to quit college to pursue writing. Then he opens the chest, drops the letter into it, and we learn that it is full of such letters. In fact, there's nothing else in the chest. It's wall to wall letters -- strewn about in haphazard fashion.

The fact that they aren't in an sort of order made me think that Jones never intended for his father to see the letters, and maybe he never intended to read them again himself, either. I'm only half way through the movie (it was just too late last night to finish it), so I don't really know the story about the father he's no longer in touch with, but I've been thinking about the visual of Jones dragging the chest around. He obviously feels a deep need to connect with his father and he's willing to haul the chest of letters up flights of stairs and across streets just to hang on to the connection.

The only odd thing to me is, the setting of the movie seems wildly inconsistent. There are modern looking cordless phones, but there are also old fashioned, corded phones. One character has a fairly modern looking camera, but Jones uses a typewriter. I think it would have been less distracting if the movie had been set in the 80s, but that's just my opinion.

But the thing that struck me about the chest of letters that Jones drags around is that is tangible. If/when someone gets close enough to him, that person will learn a lot about him just by seeing the contents of the chest. If he had written those letters on a laptop, there would be no tangible evidence that they even exist.

I love modern day gadgets, and I use a ton of them, but sometimes I think they allow us to hide evidence of pain, or, at the very least, they can make it harder to make someone aware of it. When I was about Jones' age (17), I was busy writing poetry, prose and songs that expressed the way I felt about my circumstances. I passed them around to trusted friends and as they read them I felt like it drew us closer. Especially when they returned the favor.

I'm not so sure we do that anymore.

We do it to a lesser degree on blogs, Facebook and other social media. But we really only show just a sliver of who we really are and what is going on in our life. And we do a form of it in face to face communication, but we are easily swayed away from saying what we really want or need to say for a variety of reasons -- the enormity of the moment, the other person's body language, the other person steering the conversation elsewhere, etc.

We probably don't need to be dragging a big chest behind us all the time either. But a smaller version of some sort might not be a bad thing.


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