*Spoiler potential. Details of the plot included, though the movie is so complex they only scratch the surface.*

A movie I watched some time ago won’t quite let go of the strangle hold it got on my brain.  One of my Anthony Hopkins movies. I say it that way because there are many.  His is a prolific career, and since being charmed by his acting in The Edge, I’ve made it my goal to see them all.  I lost count somewhere around fifty, as my collection grew along with my admiration for this wonderful actor, but I keep watching them as I track them down.

Or stumble across one, as I did, all but hidden among the masses on a big box chain’s DVD shelves.  During searches for the many films of my favorite actor, Anthony Hopkins, and actress, Vanessa Redgrave, I discovered Merchant Ivory Productions, and have seen many of those as well.  One of my favorite movies is Howards End, where my favorite actor, actress, and production company melded with the adaptation of E. M. Forster’s novel to create film perfection.

So there among the anger and the ecstasy, the horrible and the sublime that make up jumbled shelves of century spanning film titles, I see The City of Your Final Destination, adaptation of a novel by Peter Cameron. Anthony Hopkins.  Check.  Merchant Ivory.  Check.  Twenty dollars.  Not so check.  But the front cover assured me it would be worth it. 

While the pacing is a little slower than I tend to enjoy, I found much to embrace, and it’s left a lingering impression.  There are lush visuals and entrancing dreamy moments.  I keep thinking of the gondola, taken all the way from Venice to Uruguay by author Jules Gund’s parents fleeing Hitler’s Europe, becoming a sort of muse for Gund, and then hidden away far from the shimmering waters it once plied, paint peeling, yet somehow glorious still.  The towering palm where Gund died by his own hand, leaving his family to stagnate in his wake.  The millhouse made home shared by Jules’ brother Adam and the much younger lover he had to adopt in order to be with him, as they approached their silver anniversary.  The beaches, the gauchos, the languid, hazy beauty of a far off, unknown land and the story that inhabits it all beguile with their captivating allure.

There are harsh realities, pain, and loss, and also real joy, all of it revolving around a dead author’s estate, and the effect his choices–what he wrote, the people he wrote about, how he lived, how he died–have on the people left behind. Then comes the stunning conclusion that if he hadn’t lived the way he did, and died as he did, the people in his orbit would not have stagnated so, yet they would also not have found their particular profound joys many years later.  And if he had never been a writer, every single person would have led a different life, because even in death his work was the catalyst for seismic change. 

It’s hit me the same way Eyes Wide Shut did, where when I watched it, it was okay and I was glad I saw it, but then I kept thinking about it and the ramifications that one choice by Tom Cruise’s character caused. 

The City of Your Final Destination spools out like a moving still life.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it.  It’s left an intriguing aftertaste…one borne of contemplation on the responsibilities an author bears, in life and in death, to the people he loves, people to whom he is indifferent, his own ego, and perhaps people he will never even meet.

The City of Your Final Destination Trailer