I hardly ever write film reviews (except for paragraph summaries in my movie journal) and NEVER do I talk about the conditions in which I saw the film (go to Aint It Cool News if that’s your thing). But I will break both of these rules to talk about the finest movie I’ve seen in quite some time: Ratatouille.
I had wanted to go see this movie on Saturday, and Yena and I had vaguely made plans. Therefore, I was rather miffed when Yena did not answer her phone all morning and afternoon as I frantically tried to call her. Finally I decided to go alone. As I was out the door, Yena called. She had just woken up, she’s lazy like that. I couldn’t quell my anger, even when she said that she’d had to work at her new job until 3 A.M. the previous night. I told her, very moodily, that I was going to see the movie alone and I would call her when it was over.
When I arrived at the theatre, I realized I had read the times wrong on the internet: The show was at 4:30, not 3:30. Feeling guilty about my anger towards my girlfriend, I quickly called Yena up and asked her if she could make it to the 4:30 show? She said it would be tight, but that she would try. I bought two tickets. I fully realized at that time that she might be late. If she is, I thought, we’ll exchange the tickets for a later show.
Yena showed up at 4:45 and, being my nitpicky self, I decided I wanted to see the whole movie, I didn’t want to miss a beat. We stood in line for 5 minutes and then asked the girl at the counter to exchange our tickets. She said she could not because the show had already started. That made me angry. We went inside to talk to a manager. The manager was similarly stubborn: They would NOT exchange tickets once a show has already started. I explained that I didn’t know my girlfriend was going to be late, I could not read Korean, and I had no way of knowing this rule. (I used to work at a movie theatre, and the place I worked was comparatively lax. You could exchange a ticket within the first hour of the film if you didn’t like it!) They didn’t budge. I was stunned by the lack of sympathy or understanding a company could have for its customers.
After talking with both of these suits, the time was 5:00. There was no way I was going into the movie now. Yena and I went outside and slipped into an ally and I cursed. A lot. 16 bucks down the drain. I was mad at the theatre, I was mad at my girlfriend, and I realized I was just mad in general. I’ve been pretty angry lately, and I’m not exactly sure of the cause, but for some reason, I’m all bottled up.
After I cooled down, we went to my apartment and just hung out. But I could not get that 16 bucks out of my mind. Wasted, I thought. I tried to turn it into a positive experience: Hey, It’s just money… or… Maybe we just need to lose sometimes to keep ourselves modest…. or…. at least I never go to a casino… or… dammit, that was 16 dollars! Couldn’t shake it.
So today, I was pretty reluctant to try to see the movie again. I mean, could I really go to the same theatre that took my money and ask the same girl who gave me my first ticket for another? Could I really bow down to an establishment or another person, sacrifice my pride, my.. my… soul?
“One for Ratatouille, please.” Yes, I said please.
That was officially 24 dollars that I was paying to see this movie since, today, I went alone. Even as I sat down in those really ugly light blue seats, surrounded by a thousand couples and one family with a hyper-active child, all I could think was, “24 dollars. No, it doesn’t matter. 24. It’s only money… but, 24! This better be a good movie.”
Then the lights went down. And for the next 2 hours, I was transported to a place where I forgot all my worries. At the halfway mark, I had tears in my eyes. It’s not even that the emotions on the screen were inducing me to weep, but that I realized I was experiencing a movie of such beauty and perfection… the look of the thing is incredible. And the simple fact that we’re following a rat who is different– he wants to be a cook, not just eat garbage the rest of his life– and a boy who is hopeless and in need of a friend, was enough to set off my inner affection for the underdogs, the small and fragile things of this world. Movies like this, movies that inspire, allow us to see the kindness and the beauty and love that exists in this universe, even when most of the time, hard lines and worn-down faces and dollar signs are the symbols that define our lives. I was a bit surprised when the lights came up, that I was the only one crying, albeit silently and as sparingly as possible. How could a movie that had such touching moments and tender feelings not inspire others to feel like I did? I don’t have an answer for that.
Anyway, as I was walking out of the theatre, I was happy that I had spent 24 dollars on that movie. I wanted, at that moment, to have spent 50. It’s not every day that you experience beauty, and when you do, it’s invaluable. It always reminds me why I want to make movies: to inspire. And to be inspired. And to try to see the beauty in life not just once in a while, but every day… in the faces of people who work hard to serve me my jiggae, in the old inscriptions on the wall of an ancient temple, in trees and small animals, in memories of people I love, in my girlfriend, in everything that was here before tall buildings. The underdogs.
It’s easy to get caught up in things like money and image and desire and judgement and negative thoughts. But to witness beauty is a transcending experience, one that can temporarily remind us what living is for.
Ratatouille was such an experience.