When literature is relatable, a person soaks it in happily, remembering every look, every unspoken message, and every fiber of human connectivity. Such it was last night when I “read” the movie, Larry Crowne, starring Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks, two Hollywood A-listers.
Because I could relate to the movie on many levels, it resonated with me with great profoundness. Unfortunately, I had read Stephen Holden’s review of the movie and felt that he lived in another country away from the movie’s essence. He missed the bull’s eye from all possible points because of “shaking hands,” otherwise known as self-imposed disability.
If a person cannot relate to a book or a movie, all the nuances, minuscule connections, and the humanity in the plot scale over his or her head with a car racer’s zooming speed. I did not chuckle like Holden presumed that I would do. I laughed aloud on numerous occasions. When a reviewer views a piece with obvious prejudice and begins from that reference point, it is a complete hard sell to try to change that person’s biased stance.
SME on Yahoo responded to the question about the relatability of literature and stated, “All literature relates to someone. That is why people read. To get information and pleasure and a new point of view, I read because it makes me think and feel challenged.” I thank SME for his or her open-mindedness, but I wish I could say the same for Mr. Holden’s tongue-in-cheek review.
How did the movie/literature relate to me? Borrowing from Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “…Let me count the ways.” First, like Julia Robert’s character, I have a last name that people mispronounce all the time. I teach public speaking at a university, and many of the scenarios in her classroom and the speech activities drove home to me with an immense force.
I saw me and my students in many of the roles in the classroom: matters pertaining to attendance; I (as the instructor) sat in the back while listening to and grading the speeches, always mindful of the time limits allotted to the speech, always calling time, always assigning self-introductory speech, speech that required research, persuasive speech, and many scenarios too numerous to mention. Also, I try to show my humanity while retaining a little detachment.
Like Larry Crowne, Tom Hank’s character, I lost my job after a 20-year investment in it. Just like Mr. Crowne, losing the job was harrowing at first, but it became the best fun he/I ever had. As I watched Crowne, I related with receiving unemployment benefits, filing for voluntary foreclosure in order not to be homeless or become a victim of the bank’s/mortgage company’s brand of foreclosure, having boundless fun, and reinventing myself by taking classes.
Additional similarities include downsizing lifestyle and expenses, meeting new people, having the time to meet new people, having the time to do what I/he wanted and when I/he wanted it, freedom from the 8 A.M. to 6 P.M. grind, and many other possibilities that transformed themselves from impossibilities.
This affirmative movie drove home, resonated with me, and sent me this profound message: Sometimes when a person loses a job, he/she gains much more, gains of the biggest proportion.