February 8, 2003

Changing Lanes

Category: Movies :: Permalink

On Friday night, my new landlords and I watched Changing Lanes. I’d seen it once before and enjoyed it, but I had thought some elements were implausible. This time, however, some of the things that had appeared to me (and, I gather, to some reviewers) to be weaknesses didn’t look as weak as I had thought.

I recall hearing that Gattaca got some bad reviews because the reviewers thought the characters (indeed, all the people) seemed a bit stiff and stand-offish. But that, of course, was the point. In the future as portrayed by Gattaca people would be that way.

So, too, with Changing Lanes: What some people saw as weaknesses were there for a reason. Here’s the first and perhaps biggest implausibility to come to mind: All the events in the movie take place on one day. The two characters meet and carry out their vendetta against each other and the whole thing is over by suppertime.

But it seems to me that the implausibility is designed to make a point and the point has to do with which day it is. We hear it fairly early in the movie: “It’s Friday. Good Friday,” we’re told (to which the Ben Affleck character responds, “What’s so good about it?”). Later, in a crucial scene in the movie, we’re shown a Good Friday celebration in a Roman Catholic church (“The wood of the cross on which was slain the Saviour of the world”). Watch for an icon hanging in a closet in one scene, not to mention other times when the camera lingers on a cross.

The movie is, quite simply, about reconciliation, the kind which comes about only when one lays down one’s rights, accepts suffering without retaliation, and repays evil with good — all of which has everything to do with Good Friday. On first viewing, I was moved by the ending and intrigued by the pervasive Christianity but also disturbed by a few elements. On this second viewing, while I still see some flaws in the ending, I understand it better and my appreciation for the whole has grown.

Posted by John Barach @ 9:55 pm | Discuss (0)

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