I just read Manohla Dargis's incredible review of Momma's Man and it got me thinking about something. While I suppose I've known this all along, I've never really expressed it. This might be an embarrassing admission, but so fucking what. I'm feeling a tad discouraged and disgusted with where this business appears to be headed -- content! content! more content! even more content!!! all we care about is content!!! more!!! more!!! MORE!!! eighty-six movies are being released this weekend!!! too many choices so why not see nothing instead!!! watch a movie on your wristwatch!!! short films on toilet paper!!! watch Days of Heaven on your rearview mirror!!! -- and I'm trying to remember what got me excited about movies in the first place. What that has to do with this exactly, I'm not too sure. It just has me wanting to get personal, I guess.
I didn't write this in my review, for I didn't want to seem too solipsistic, but I want to make something clear: it wasn't just the content of Momma's Man that devastated me so much when I saw it at Sundance. While that certainly played a large part in turning me into a quivering puddle of tears for an entire day, there's something else that contributed to making me feel so weak and fragile. It was the humbling realization that I was watching another filmmaker express himself in a way that I never have (and almost certainly never will -- not being self-deprecating here, just being honest). On that morning, I watched a nearly identical movie to one I had been wanting to make for years. I have the abandoned scripts to prove it. The return home, the rummaging through old things, the awkward, loving exchanges between a confused child and his devoted, concerned parents. Yet, here I was watching a film that was just oozing with deeply personal sentiment, made by a writer/director who had found a way to give his story enough remove to keep it from becoming smothered by the weight of its own autobiography. Watching Jacobs ride this impossibly narrow line was like shining a spotlight on my own inferior vision for what my film would be.
While the roles are reversed in Jacobs' film to my own situation -- I am creative and my parents are living the conservative life -- I still felt like Momma's Man was speaking directly to me. Or should I say for me. Or, taking it even one step further, from me. Perhaps that's the distinction. Though written and directed by someone else, it's hard not to feel like I made Momma's Man. For every decision is the decision I would have made, had I the talent and capacity to express myself so purely. But I don't. Maybe one day I will say something through words or cinema or music that I can be proud of, but for now, I will live vicariously through Jacobs and Momma's Man and use his lesson to inspire and not deflate me.
One last time (okay, I'm lying, I'll probably say it a lot more), I urge all of you to see Momma's Man this weekend and support a movie that makes me cry just thinking about it.