Aug 8, 2011


"And so, the cat... It’s a talking cat, but not really: it’s a puppet-like representation of a cat, and it doesn’t exactly talk, it delivers an interior monologue (voiced by July) that goes beyond living feline experience to express the ideas and emotions that July extracts from the character, and the symbol, of the cat. It’s a lighthearted invention, and it’s deadly serious... Paw Paw, a pure act of imagination, reveals, in its empathy, regret, tenderness, and confrontation with death, July’s own grandeur, polyphony, mordant wit, metaphysical seriousness, and bitter wisdom—and her definition of art in those very terms. Like Sophie and Jason, Paw Paw is waiting; just as their real life, as they see it, is in the future, in a dream of a coming fulfillment, so the cat’s is in its adoption by them. Paw Paw’s voice starts the movie and speaks of despair: “Have you ever been outside?” By which it means homeless, alone, and without any prospects. It begins in anticipation and (spoiler alert) it ends up with nothing left to hope for. It dies (“I died. Really”), a casualty of the couple’s self-absorbed negligence, of Sophie’s choice and Jason’s inability to face it. Paw Paw’s real life hasn’t begun—and it never arrives. But it speaks from the beyond (“No more ‘cat,’ no more ‘I’ ”), bringing to the film a transcendental version of what Sophie and Jason are enduring together, a life that can’t begin until it’s utterly devastated and emptied of hope. The cat is the voice of selflessness, of the infra-human and the super-human, of the shattered identity and the uniting oversoul. (And July joins the cat’s final, otherworldly words to simple yet ecstatic images that match the vast ideas and locate them, latently, as accessible raptures of daily life.)." — Richard Brody, The Front Row, the New Yorker
* An occasional column devoted to the idea that our reaction to unread books, unseen movies and unlistened to albums can be every bit as rewarding as to those demanding our urgent personal attention

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