More about Danish film today...
It’s good to know that 35-year-old men have the same sentimental and romantic paranoia as I do. The 17-year-old Mads writes a letter to himself: “find din store kærlighed.” ("Find your great love.") As he thinks back to that idealistic promise as a 35 year-old (played by Thure Lindhardt, whose face is remarkably expressive), he feels complacent and disappointed, as if his life’s achievements haven't quite measured up.
A storywriter for a middle-of-the-road tv program in Denmark, Mads had a dream that he would be a talented screenwriter of the world’s best movies. Instead, the categorical structure of TV narratives is boring him: a call to adventure under false pretenses, first turning point, high point, second turning point, falling action, and resolution, where the character realizes he has everything he needs from the beginning. And Mads is sick of this, both in his work and his personal life. So, out with the girlfriend of 10 years, out with the suburban house, and in with a bachelor pad and a wall of ideas for great movies.
But after a crash-and-burn relationship with a 19 year-old, a near-death experience, and a bucketful of discarded movie ideas, Mads realizes that, actually, he likes and needs the structure he was so eager to throw out the window. And the film, like a great screenplay, comes full circle.
I could learn something from him and his process. My lists, my goals, my expectations resemble Mads’s adolescent letter to himself. He wrote: “find din store kærlighed.” I may as well have written the same thing, and more, in a letter to myself at the end of high school. I may as well have written: “have a career you love, love passionately, find your soulmate, discover the world and don’t leave anything uncovered.” This letter is still in my head, constantly, forcing me to evaluate my life to its standards.
The ever-present letter, or rather list, causes me to run like mad through my life, and I know that many of my friends do the same. In the 21st century, idleness seems to give us a sour taste in our mouth, while being busy is seen as commendable. It's all about goals, goals, goals! For example, I have a dozen serious interests but lack the time to take them seriously. And it’s starting to exhaust me. But as a 25-year-old woman in 2012, the pressure to achieve may be both self-inflicted and externally validated.
Maybe, however, it is now time for us to let a little internal achievement happen, by giving ourselves the time and the space to explore our interests deeply, and by doing a few things whole-heartedly instead of a lot of things because "they're on the list."
On that note, perhaps I should go take a walk in a circle, so I can arrive back where I started, with a clearer sense of self.