This week's Reel is from my favorites list. It is 1984's "CAL". I have lost count of how many times I have watched this movie. I feel a little guilty recommending this film, because it is an extremely difficult movie to locate.
The movie takes place in 1970's Ireland. CAL (John Lynch) is a Catholic working class young man. He lives with his father in a Protestant neighborhood. Tensions are high. Their neighbors want them out & will stop at nothing to make sure that happens. CAL must run a gauntlet to get home each day. He seeks solace & camaraderie amongst sympathetic friends, who move on the fringes of the IRA.
One evening he is asked to drive the car for his friends. In the back of his mind CAL has an idea what is to happen, but is unable to extricate himself from what he believes will transpire. He finds himself the unwilling participate of an unspeakable act of violence.
CAL's guilt is eating him alive & he becomes obsessed with the victims. He goes to the library daily to see Marcella (Helen Mirren), one of the victims. He feels if he can see her, and be near her, then some of the pain he feels,can be some how assuaged. He finds himself inextricably bound to her.
Out of the ashes of that tragedy comes a horribly doomed love affair.
The decision he made that evening has sealed his fate & he seeks no escape, because he welcomes the punishment. He knows whatever happiness he is able to hold onto, will be short-lived.
CAL is not a feel good movie, but I think my love for it comes from the Shakespearean infolding of it. The poetry that is life, which emanates from it. You root for CAL, even though you, like CAL can't figure a way out.
It's a melancholy movie, for my melancholy days, and I'm okay with that.