Thursday, March 10, 2011
This film is successful because of two remarkable performances by Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman. She plays Linda Freeman, a high-functioning autistic woman living in a rural Ontario town called Wawa. With her face scrubbed clean of makeup and exhibiting expressions that shift between childish delight, unrestrained panic, and flatly delivered truths, Ms. Weaver gives a technically accomplished performance. Her character is so far from anything she has ever played that it takes a while to recognize her, but it is indeed Sigourney Weaver.
She meets Alan Rickman because he picked up her daughter, Vivienne, as a hitchhiker and she was then killed in an accident that he is blameless for. This is of note because he has just gotten out of prison for manslaughter--he killed a man unintentionally. It is hard to say how much this influences Mr. Rickman's character because he is a bit of a handful emotionally. He is a scowling, humorless, baggy-eyed misanthrope whose grumbling tone and suspicious gaze convey defeat and despair. He is occasionally capable of sardonic self-deprecation: “I don’t have baggage; I have haulage,” he remarks. And he is not exaggerating. Or at least not by much.
They are thrown together by the accident, and they stay together for reasons that are unclear to Rickman, but he sees that he needs the time out. Linda is perfect--she tells him truths that he can't face and no one else will verbalize. She has her impossible phobias, but he doesn't much challenge them, and she allows him to work towards a better place. He takes over the funeral for Vivienne and really does a fine job. It assuages his guilt, this stop over, and allows him to move on to his next guilt. A peaceful look at healing.