Bright Blessings, Film Lovers!
For this month’s film, I decided to review one that has been well loved for decades. It is award winning, and was a groundbreaking, intimate look at the lives, and the love of people who have autism. Rainman.
Here is a trailer of the film you can watch.
The film starts in the fast, trendy, and loud life of Charlie Babbitt, played by Tom Cruise. He’s on the verge of sealing a major sales deal, which would profit him $75K. He’s got an amazing, kind hearted girlfriend named Susanna. He’s young, healthy, good looking, and it seems like everything is going his way. He heads out with Susanna for a getaway to Palm Springs, and on the way, he gets a telephone call, telling him his estranged father has died.
He immediately launches into complaints about how nothing he ever did was good enough for his father, and we see he is both hurt, and childish about certain things. Namingly, a car his father would not allow him to drive when he was just a kid.
He was not really enthused about going to the funeral instead of on vacation, but seeing as Charlie loved money, and his dad was rich, he went, and sat to see what he inherited.
He discovered he was gifted the coveted car he always wanted to drive, which he liked- but also discovered that millions of dollars was inherited by somebody he did not know. Not ONE penny for Charlie.
He had a fit, and went to visit said individual, name of Raymond, played by Dustin Hoffman.
Raymond was autistic, but a mathematical genius, and was living in an institution. While Charlie is throwing a fit at the institution where Raymond lives, he discovers by accident that Raymond is actually his brother. A brother he did not know he had!
Charlie hatches a plan to kidnap Raymond, and refuse to return him until the inheritance money he feels he deserves is forked over.
Off they go in the classic car in a week long trip from Ohio to California.
Along the way, Charlie learns more about Raymond, including the fact he does, indeed remember his brother. He also learns that his assumptions about his Father were wrong, and that his father had made a heartbreaking decision that no parent wants to- all for the sake of Charlie.
In the end, the brothers bond in a way Charlie had never expected.
The film is beautiful, and aside from being a reminder of love, several magical truths are revealed.
- We are sometimes our own worst enemy, and it would be fabulous if the only person we hurt was our-self when we do this, but the people who love us suffer too. Charlie’s anger at his father kept him away from his family. He was not the only one who suffered for it. His father’s heartbreak is evidenced in giving Charlie the car, and saying he regretted them becoming estranged.
- Anger and other strong emotions cloud our judgement, and we ought to stop, take a step back, and pay attention, or else we miss the truth. Charlie was a very angry man. Tiny things set him off, and by the end of the film, he was still fiery, but had started learning to let small things go, and focus on the big picture.
- Just because people love you does not mean they give you whatever you want. Sometimes it is the people who love us that give us what we NEED and risk our wrath by telling us no. Let’s be reasonable. One thing that pissed Charlie off was the fact his dad would not let him drive a VERY expensive car when he was just a kid. Well, I wouldn’t have either. As a child, being angry over such things is not unusual, but as adults, we mature and begin to understand reasons. Charlie took a LONG time to emotionally mature enough to see past his anger. He sees his father preserved the car, and as an adult the car is gifted to Charlie. As a child he would not have appreciated such a thing.
- Sometimes, the people we assume cannot do things are the ones with the greatest love to give, and who have talents beyond what we imagined. This is perhaps the most profound magical message of the film. People assume people who cannot work a regular job, and are thus disabled, like Raymond, have no value. Raymond was a mathematical genius, referred to as a savant, and beyond his incredible gifts with numbers, as well as an astounding memory, he showed unbelievable kindness. I won’t spoil it for you, but a ways through the film, when Charlie begins to remember Raymond, it is shown that even when Charlie was little, Raymond was so focused on love for his little brother, that even Charlie’s rage could not erase the memory of that.
- When you really love somebody, your main focus is on doing what is best for them as opposed to what YOU want. Charlie learns to do what is best for Raymond, as opposed to using him for money. In the end, he does not get a cent of the inheritance, but gets a far greater gift- a relationship with his long lost brother.
All of this boils down to illusions. Charlie suffered from a lot of self-imposed illusions, and they kept him from his family. They kept his focus on superficial things as opposed to what he really needed, which was love. Once his precious brother, Raymond was stuck with him for a week, and the unexpected lessons Raymond taught sunk in, we saw a beautiful change in Charlie. He went from being angry and selfish to being appreciative, and tenderhearted.
Love is magical, and brings out our best selves. That is the great magical lesson Rainman teaches.
If you want a good cry, a good laugh, and a good reminder of how love is the most magical, healing force in the Universe, crack out this classic film, and enjoy.
Blessed Be, and Happy Viewing!
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