the bulk of this film wasn’t as good as a remember, but the ending lived up to my memory in every way and then some. at it’s core it’s about human interaction and i suppose there are a number of ways of putting that. it reminds me of the scene from citizen kane where bernstein says “A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn’t think he’d remember. You take me. One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry, and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in, and on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn’t see me at all, but I’ll bet a month hasn’t gone by since that I haven’t thought of that girl.” it’s about longing for human interaction. having more than the mere superficial human interaction, but having a deep interaction with a person. cal (james dean) longs for that with his father, but feels constantly overshadowed by his brother who is a great person by most accounts, but perhaps not the most aware or curious of souls. that is his weakness of character, if you will. then there’s the father. also a great man of great morality and high standard, but perhaps too self-sufficient to know what his own son craves in life – his love. cal, the protagonist, has many weaknesses – he’s perhaps overly curious, awkward socially, impulsive, etc.
really, the first 90% of the film is about establishing the characters and the interpersonal dynamics so that the end works, and works well. each character has their weakness and need and all the pieces sort of shift together in the end. cal and his father finally finding some understanding thanks to aron’s fiancé mediating and allowing the father to understand what cal needs and making cal give his dad a shot to do the right thing now that he knows what that is. isn’t that sort of part of the tragedy of the human condition, though? when viewed from the outside it’s very easy to know what a person needs and where that person is likely going. when i watch the up series, it’s easy, with very limited information, to know a good deal about the future, desires, thoughts of most of the characters. but when it’s our lives things are so much more difficult to analyze and we don’t see that we’re a train on a track towards another train. there’s a trajectory that we create early on and we generally don’t change it unless some really big event occurs or we rise above the pack upon self-reflection (epiphany) and through hard work, desire, luck, etc.