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About Schmidt, a film, Channel 4

From:     blp
Category: Films
Date:     01 April 2007
Time:     08:05 AM


'I like mayonnaise and mustard. And give me it with some chips. The barbecue ones, not the plain
ones. Your mother ate those. In fact, you can take those with you. I won't eat 'em.' 

I used to live in America. It's just like this. Just like it. The dialogue looks boring written down
and it is, that's the point, the kind of sentences you start and then think, broadly speaking, this
is the most banal, undignified sentence and if I finish it I will probably suffocate, but I can't
stop because this is all there is, an enveloping glut of nutrient-reft material that somehow must
all be discussed. And it just goes on and on, a relentless, heartrending trudge through tense
ridiculous, colourless people's lives with nothing to make it palatable. So so many other films
would have set up a much more clichéed, cartoon version of this, then provided an escape hatch in
the form of some wayward hippy or punk or beatnik or other free spirit. The straightlaced main
character would have disliked the new person at first, then warmed to them as their vivifying
injection of chaos began to loosen them up. None of that here; no salvation; no escape. The hippy
types are much more what we recognise from reality – passive aggressive, naff and embarrassing in
their attempts at freedom. Kathy Bates gets into the jacuzzi naked with Jack Nicholson, her soon to
be in-law, and explains to him, 'We don't give bought presents at Christmas. We make them ourselves.
It can be a painting, a poem or whatever inspires you.' No salvation or escape, just moments of
release that are always cut off too soon. 

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