, Get Smart”
“Jellyfish” is so international that it is an Israeli film that
features Hebrew, German, and a Filipino dialect to accompany the occasional
thickly-accented English. “Jellyfish”
is a montage of several different life-stories, all of people who are flying
under the radar. The kind of people
who are mostly invisible. A young
woman watches her boyfriend move out because she is unable to say “Please
stay,” until he has already left. She’s
a waitress who works wedding receptions, harassed by her boss for buttons askew,
a crooked nametag. He also
castigates the photographer for snapping non-traditional photographs,
like….the hired help clearing the dishes.
A bride gets caught in a bathroom stall, and the music at her reception
is so loud that nobody can hear her. So
she takes off the big dress, climbs over the partition, and falls down, breaking
her leg. The doctor says no
honeymoon to the
. Instead, they try a high-rise
hotel in Tel Aviv, where the traffic is noisy, the rooms are smelly, and they
can’t even see the ocean. The
groom goes out for smokes a lot. He
talks to a woman who offers him her suite, but his bride is immediately
suspicious, so they have their first fight as man and wife.
A Filipino woman hires out to take care of elderly people, usually paid
for by guilty adult children too busy to spend their own time.
She telephones her homeland, and speaks to her five-year-old son on his
birthday, hoping to send him a ship in a bottle as a present. He
says he only wants to see her. The
gruff old lady orders her about like a servant, gripes about her not being able
to speak Hebrew very well, even though she herself doesn’t speak English, the
second language of the Filipino.
Yes, it’s all very melancholy, and even symbolic, including a lost
little girl whom the waitress encounters, but probably represents the waitress,
as well. Just a lost soul, looking
for someone to take care of her, but terribly incommunicative, and runs away at
the first opportunity. So
desperately wanting to make the intimate connection that is too fearful to
,” a young Bangladeshi woman also wants to make a connection that is too
fearful to contemplate. At 17, her
father betrothes her to a businessman living in
, so she is literally shipped there in fear and trembling.
He’s older, fat, pretentious, patronizing, and distant.
They live in a cramped apartment building, and quickly have two children.
The story fast-forwards to the mail-order bride in her early 30’s,
having learned some English but rarely venturing out of the Bengali barrio,
until she meets a young Muslim man who is preaching a fiery revolution at
desperate little night meetings. The
atmosphere turns even more rancid after 9/11, as all foreigners, and especially
Muslims, are hold in immediate suspicion. By
taking in some sewing, our harried mother of teenagers tries desperately to hang
on to her increasingly-Westernized daughters, her increasingly unsuccessful
husband, and her increasingly precarious finances from her husband’s impulsive
borrowing. But it’s when she falls
into an affair with the Muslim firebrand that she realizes where her real
treasure lies. She rejects his
fervent pleas for them to run off and make a life together, choosing instead to
be the best she can be in the life that she was given.
It sounds like a non-momentous decision, compared to say, saving the
world. But in a very personal way,
she saves herself, as well as those around her whom she loves, and that is all
the destiny she needs.
In “Get Smart,” the American secret agents really do save the world,
but it’s all a tongue-in-cheek homage to an old television show.
Steve Carell does his deadpan, Anne Hathaway her sardonic sultriness, and
through their bumbling invincibility they thwart the bad guy’s plot to blow up
. Cute and witty, funny in a
quiet-chuckle kind of way, but nothing really momentous going on with the
characters. Just walk through the
explosions and wipe the dust off the still-pressed suit.
For some people, watching real life unfold is the last thing they want to
do in the movies. They want to see
beautiful people doing extraordinary things.
For them, it’s “Get Smart.” For
the rest, to “get smart” would be to see the other two instead.
Questions For Discussion:
Have you ever felt like one of the invisible people?
Have you ever felt lost and overwhelmed?
Who helped you? Have you ever
helped someone who felt lost and overwhelmed?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church,