November 2009


Genova Poster

While the acting and photography in Genova have been justly acclaimed, we remain profoundly ambivalent about the film. Perhaps the script was one or two steps too clever, or was the ghost motif just over-used? It’s hard to tell; but the end of the film left one with a profound feeling of anticlimax.


As a study in grief, much of the psychology works well. Joe, Kelly and Mary each react to grief in different ways; Joe through immersion in routine, Kelly through subversion and experimentation, Mary through fantasy and withdrawal. The city itself becomes a reflection of their progress, its history and labyrinthine alleys a visual representation of the oppression of grief. Mary becomes obsessed with churches and saints – all good until the ghost of her mother starts talking, which robbed the idea of it’s power.

The film’s visual style is gritty and engaging, with hand-held digital the dominant technology. Light is always naturalistic and the film strived for an almost documentary plainness.

It doesn’t need resolution, but the plot needs some better point to finish. The film clearly argues for the need to accept, even to surrender to grief but to embrace life as part of healing. There are no happy endings in this post-modern catastrophe, except in melodrama. The chosen point at which the script leaves the family is good symbolically but doesn’t translate emotionally on the screen.

Colin Firth is excellent and shows that he is more than a rom-com star. The two girls are both memorable in their roles, although Mary’s screams were too realistic! But it is the Italian urban landscape and the sunlight that are the real stars.

I’ve spent the last four weeks writing papers – well, really writing ONE paper – for my doctorate, and I have finally reached the state where I have to write about something else. Indeed, I need to write about anything else. If you had told me when I took this month off work that it would come down to a 2500 word framework paper, I would have strangled you. Even though I have probably written about 6,000 words in the process, and then cut and cut and clarified, it still remains one of the most difficult experiences in many years of academic work.

The step up is, of course, the move from critique to creativity. In an undergraduate degree, all you learn is what is in the field. I suppose my arts degree told me what I needed to know and then sent me out to find out. At Masters level, one learns to critique what others think they know. In this doctoral program, I am supposedly generating new knowledge, so the sense of exposure is quite acute. With John and Narrotam determined to get me publishing, I feel like a target even though the proposal is not yet presented.

It has been an interesting journey (and you can read successive drafts at my Collective Efficacy site), but one that I would not care to repeat. Now I am madly catching up with the things I need to know, which involves stitching together background knowledge into more bits of the Literature Review.

The time has come to blog. Differently. Therefore, I am going to write about anything other than the doctorate in this blog, as often as possible, even if I only talk about the apps on my iPhone.

So there.