There are those who say that the best response to a creative work is not
an analysis but another creative work, and, as this is a movie that I saw
in 1998, I've already written my response, though my take isn't very good.
I imagine that most people reading this are already familiar with it, but
if not, go check it out. (Actually, the
IF piece in question was inspired by many more works than just this, but
this is definitely a key ingredient in the stew.)
I thought this movie was quite good the first time I saw it and I continue
to think so after this viewing. In a sense, it's pretty similar to
Rachel Getting Married, but more attuned to
my sensibility. Both films are about a large gathering of family and
friends — in Rachel's case, for a daughter's wedding; in
The Celebration's, for a patriarch's 60th birthday. In both cases,
the main character threatens to ruin the festivities with a load of drama
stemming from a dark secret in his or her past. The difference is that in
Rachel, this is considered a bad thing. We're supposed to root for
Rachel's special day not to be disrupted by her narcissistic sister, and
then to share in the revelry of this crazy collection of characters that's
somehow formed a family. In The Celebration, .
Consequently, we're intended to be actively cheering for the party to blow
up, and appalled as the great-uncles and second cousins insist, ever more
farcically, on clinging to the illusion of harmony and engaging in those
old family traditions. This worked better for me both tonally (I liked
the way the film apportioned pathos and Antarctically dry comedy) and
thematically (the film's rejection of big gatherings in favor of smaller,
tighter bonds would have been right up my alley even if it hadn't given
pride of place to "unidirectional relationship with dead sister").
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